Public Perceptions of the Environmental Changes to the Thames Estuary in London, U.K.
Keywords:Public perception, estuary management, water quality, environmental quality, intertidal zone, land use, land claim, tidal influence, tidal control, encroachment
This paper compares the ways in which managers and members of the public viewed one example of coastal and estuarine resources in the U.K., the tidal River Thames in London. It is based on semi-structured interviews with 14 managers, eight focus group discussions with members of the public and a mail questionnaire survey completed by 110 representatives of tenants and residents associations in Thames-side Boroughs. Members of the public were well aware of the reduction in flood risk achieved through the implementation of a comprehensive flood defense strategy for London. However public awareness of improvements in water quality, habitats and fisheries and understanding of the ecological importance of the intertidal zone remained generally low. In London there is a need to promote public awareness and appreciation of estuarine and coastal resources, particularly estuarine ecology. This is essential if members of the public are to be enabled to take an informed part in environmental decision making on issues such as land claim, development and conservation and if estuarine resources are not to be undervalued in benefit assessments involving public valuations.