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Environment Agency - River Thames set for 5.1 million pound upgrade

The River Thames is to receive a 5.1 million pound upgrade this year, with thirteen locks benefiting from repairs and improvements. The Environment Agency will be investing in new lock gates, improved layby walkways and better mooring facilities.

The largest projects are at Shiplake and Bray, where locks will receive improvements totalling £1.35 million. Work will be carried out to replace lock gates and repair lock chambers.  In total, ten locks will be affected by temporary closures, with work scheduled to take place during various periods between November 2009 and February 2010.

The Environment Agency’s drive to provide ‘out of hours’ public power at all its hydraulic locks reaches its conclusion this year when the final three will be installed at Iffley, Whitchurch and Marlow locks. This allows boaters to operate the lock at half power when the lock keeper is not available to help.  

Other works include:
• New boater facilities at Mapledurham Lock which will include a pump-out, a chemical toilet disposal facility and a drinking water tap. This will provide much needed facilities as boaters currently have to travel between Abingdon and Shiplake without access to a pump-out.  
• Upgrading the short stay moorings at Abingdon. This work is currently underway and is expected to be complete by the end of September. A more stable bank and new mooring bollards will improve the moorings and make them easier for boaters to use. 
• River users will notice improvements to the tail layby at Culham as the walkway is widened.
• Work has also started to improve the base moorings at Hurley Lock. This work will be expected to be complete by the end of September. 

Paul Power, Environment Agency engineering manager for the River Thames, said: “With continued high levels of investment we are pleased to be tackling an ambitious programme of refurbishments and improvements this year. Apart from Shiplake and Bray, the lock closures are fairly short. We are, therefore, already seeing the benefits of previous years high quality of work and investment.

“Reflecting on the works scheduled for this year, I’m sure boaters and other visitors will enjoy the improvements next boating season and for many years to come.”

To help boaters plan their journeys on the river while the works are underway the Environment Agency has produced a handy map, detailing the work taking place and how long locks will be closed. The map will be regularly updated during the winter and the latest version can be downloaded from www.visitthames.co.uk/winterworks.

You can also call our Floodline number for updates on 0845 988 1188, select option 1 followed by quickdial number 011132. Alternatively you can register for electronic updates by emailing visitthames@environment-agency.gov.uk.

Notes to editors

There will be opportunities to film/photograph major works at the locks over the winter. Please contact the press office if you wish to register your interest.

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