Latest News: Environmental Protection Works for Thames Water

August 12th, 2019

Environmental Protection Works for Thames Water

Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd are currently working on environmental protection works with our partners Eight20 on the River Thames, to protect the dwindling population of the European eel.

The sheet piling scope of works require the design, manufacture, fabrication, delivery and installation of 8no fenders piles, 20no structural support tubular steel piles and 5no ‘H’ piles.


These three elements of the environmental protection works are being constructed at the mouth of one of the many Thames Water Inlets, located along the length of the River Thames. The screens prevent the eels from swimming up the inlet and getting drawn into the pumping stations.

The ‘fender’ piles protect the eel screens from being damaged by river ‘traffic’ colliding with them. The structural support tubular steel piles located behind the ‘fender’ piles, will provide an elevated walkway between the riverbank and screen structure for maintenance purposes and the ‘H’ piles act as upstream and downstream end closure plates for the actual screens.

Environmental Protection Works for Thames Water
Environmental Protection Works for Thames Water


Environmental Protection Works

Before the works commenced all Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd personnel had to attend the Thames Water Safety Passport System Course at the Thames Water Training Centre in Reading, Berkshire. This training is to ensure that the project strict Health and Safety and Environmental procedures are adhered to.

Water safety is obviously paramount and two safety boats are deployed at all times whist works are being carried out. One safety boat is located ‘riverside’ ie on the outside of the floating boom and the other safety boat is located ‘workside’ ie inside the floating boom.

Water Rescue Drills (WRD’s)/Man Overboard Drills (MOD’s) are carried out on a regular basis to ensure that the high levels of water safety are maintained.

Environmental Protection Works for Thames Water

The above photograph shows several temporary works spud piles driven to their initial ‘set’ and awaiting surveying checks. Note all Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd are wearing lifejackets, safety boats are located both ‘riverside’ and ‘works’ side and a temporary floating boom has been erected across the mouth of the inlet.

The European Eels

The European Eel (Anguilla Anguilla is distributed throughout European estuarine and inland waters. The young eels (elvers) take residence in rivers and stillwaters and develop into yellow eels. Between 6 and twenty years later the yellow eel matures into adult silver eel, before migrating downstream and making the return journey to the West Atlantic to complete their complex life cycle.

Over the past 30 years the European Eel has experienced a population collapse. The number of elvers (young eels) migrating into European rivers has fallen to less that 5% of the 1980’s levels.

This decline has put the European Eel on the endangered list and made it the subject of new European legislation.

Environmental Protection Works for Thames Water
Environmental Protection Works for Thames Water


The Eels (England and Wales) Regulations 2009 Statutory Instrument came into force on 15th January 2010 and requires all owners of water undertaking and abstractions to fit suitable eel screens or equivalent eel exclusion measures.

Causes of decline in the European Eel

The Environment Agency do not know why there has been this dramatic decline in the elver population. It is likely to be a combination of factors including climate change, habitat loss and obstruction of waterways.

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Sheet Piling (UK) Limited is one of the UK's leading piling contractors. Owning and operating a comprehensive range of specialist piling equipment Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd also carry extensive stocks of new and used piles enabling rapid reaction to any urgent requirements or emergency situations.