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Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Thames could close during 2012
By Emma Midgley
BBC Berkshire reporter

River Thames
Boat companies near Windsor could be affected by closure

River users are concerned about plans to close the Thames for the duration of the rowing events at the 2012 Olympics.

Boat companies fear pleasure boats may miss out on their share of an estimated £12m the three-week Games will bring to the Dorney Lake area of Eton.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), said the plans were still at an early stage.

But the committee confirmed it was considering closing the Thames during the rowing events.

'Ruin my business'

Chris Clarke, owner of Kris Cruisers, said closing the river would ruin his business.

"We would lose £100,000 if the river closed for a fortnight" he said.

"We're already taking bookings for 2012 from our regular customers.

"If they do close the river, where do we get compensation from?"

Tim Deaton, managing director of Thames River Cruise, says he is concerned the pleasure boat industry could miss out on future work.

Henley Regatta
The river is kept open during the Henley Regatta

"We thought we would be getting some trade out of the Olympics. It could be an opportunity for tourism in the Thames Valley," he said.

Andrew Graham, of the Environment Agency, told BBC Radio Berkshire that closure of the river was just one of "many options" under consideration.

He said LOCOG were planning to bring spectators to Dorney Lake across a bridge from Windsor Racecourse, which could mean closing the River Thames.

He said: "There is a basic right of navigation along the Thames, but the Environment Agency has powers to temporarily close the river.

Busy boating area

"We are talking with the organisers and making clear to them that this is a very busy part of the river. Windsor is a very busy boating area, there are three marinas at Windsor and Bray.

"We believe that managing boating, such as at Henley Royal Regatta, where there's a huge event, but we keep the river open, is a better option than closing."

During the Rowing World Championships, river boats were used to ferry spectators to Dorney Lake from Windsor Racecourse.

Neil Kinch, a director of Oxford-based Salter's Steamers, said he did not believe the river would be closed, as doing so would require an Act of Parliament.

Tim Deaton
Boats were used to ferry spectators in the Rowing World Championships

"We're not overly concerned," he said. "We operate all along the river anyway, so it wouldn't be the end of the world.

"They won't shut the River Thames. There are lots of events along the River Thames all the time, and they know how to deal with the traffic."

A LOCOG spokesperson said: "We have had preliminary discussions with the Environment Agency about a range of traffic management measures on the Thames at Games time.

"We are looking at a number of options, closure is one option, but by no means the only one.

"We will be submitting a planning application for all the works and arrangements next year, and will be doing pre-planning consultation with the Environment Agency and other organisations on the full detail of our plans prior to this.

"At this stage it is too early to go into the detail of our proposals for the Thames."

Have your say

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Tony White, Reading, Berks

What gives 'them' the right to close the river? The River Thames is a natural resource which is there for all of us - no one created it, no-one can own it, and no one should decide that the need of one group of people to use the river should override that of another.

Graham Forster, Bracknell

It is ridiculous that peope's livelihoods should be affected by a sporting event. Who do LOCOG think they are. The Olympics is costing the country enough as it is

Digby James, Eton Wick, Windsor

I live in the immediate area to the rowing lake at Dorney and apart from a couple of country pubs, farmland, the river and some very expensive houses there isn't anything here to spend £12m on ?. Also I read somewhere that they plan to run a shuttle bus service from the local station but the only access to the lake is via a very narrow country lane, which is only just possible to get two passing cars down, so I'm not sure what sort of bus they are going to use, a very thin one I hope !. This is a lovely corner of the world but a large part of it's unspoilt charm is because it is totally out of the way. To hold an international Olympic event here would be like trying to run the British Grand Prix in pub car park !

Stephen Worsfold, London

To the folk at the Environment Agency.

If you have the power to close the River Thames don't let it go to your head and ruin small businesses.

Keep the river open during the 2012 Games-manage the traffic like that at major Regatta's on the Thames.

There are many long established, hard hit and hard worked tourist businesses that may be seriously effected and need all the encouragement they can get. And We will need them before and long after the Games have gone. They could be the engine of our recovery- not state funded agencies.

Thomas F Mursell

As a boat this would appear another case of the tail wagging the dog. It might be convenient for the organisers, and save them money, however it will cost all boat owners their right of access that they pay for with their liscence. Imagine another wet summer, the loss of boating due to Red Flags is unavoidable. To add another 3 weeks to thsi is out of proportion to the benefits.

Mike Inman, Conyer, Kent.

The Olympics should be a tremendous opportunity for the Tourist trade, especially on a world recognised river such as the Thames.

To close it even for a short time would be a disaster for many people. Where else would this be even considered but in the UK !! More moorings should be organised and opportunities be opened up on the river"!.

Please re think !!

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