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Cleaning up the Thames: Success or Failure?

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In this lecture by Carolyn Roberts, Professor of the Environment at Gresham College, she will discuss how the Thames came to be regarded as an international success story, with Bazalgette’s heroic sewer engineering works solving the nineteenth century ‘Great Stink’. Londoner’s health took an immediate turn for the better.

Today salmon, otters and birdlife are reported to be flourishing along the Thames and the waterfront has been reinvigorated with exciting new buildings and art installations.

On the other hand, internationally-owned Thames Water PLC has recently been fined for a series of catastrophic environmental offences that left thousands of fish dead, human health compromised, land contaminated and ecosystems wiped out. Levels of pharmaceutical chemicals in river water have never been higher. Will the part-completed Thames Tideway tunnel really address the fundamental problems of flooding and pollution in the metropolis?