Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette

Pier pressure in rowing row

- By CHARLOTTE LILLYWHITE @cflillywhi­te

OLYMPIC rowers have hit out at plans for a new pier for Uber Boats in South West London, claiming it will interfere with the famous Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race course.

Objectors are worried for the future of historic racing events, local clubs and rowers’ safety if the proposal for Putney Pier goes ahead.

Uber Boat by Thames Clippers wants to build a new pier next to Putney Bridge to expand its services. Applicatio­n documents say the existing pier is ‘unsuitable’ for passengers while the proposal would ‘improve accessibil­ity’ and support the service expanding without impacting local facilities or transport routes.

Uber Boats currently stop at 24 piers along the River Thames from Barking Riverside Pier to Putney Pier. The RB6 route, which stops at the Wandsworth and Putney piers, only operates during the mornings and evenings on weekdays. A petition ti to t extend t d th the service i to tW Wandsd worth and Putney piers on the weekends has gained more than 1,485 signatures.

But rowing leaders have written to Wandsworth Council with fears the new pier will ‘interfere’ with the Tideway – home to the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race and famous Heads of the River races.

Olympic rower Guy Pooley, head of rowing at Eton College, wrote: “The position of this new pier and the consequent activity around it will adversely affect the ability of the local rowing clubs to operate safely in that area. Many nationally significan­t events such as the Boat Race and the many Head of the River races use this area as the finish of the race and crews pass through Putney Bridge and return to Putney embankment. The position of the proposed pier will interfere enormously with this.”

Paralympic rower and two-time World Champion Erin Kennedy MBE added: “It would seriously impact all social rowing on the Tideway, including the boat races and all domestic regattas. It cannot be allowed ll dt to proceed.” d”

Mark Davies, chair of British Rowing, said the pier could spell “the end of racing between Putney and Mortlake”.

Alastair Marks, chief executive of British Rowing, called the proposal “the latest in a seemingly endless series of applicatio­ns which threatens the most important and longestest­ablished rowing course in the country”.

He said: “The impact of this proposal would therefore be that crews would simply no longer be able to use this stretch of water. Given that rowing boats are fragile and difficult to manoeuvre, the risks of doing so would be too great because accidents would be inevitable.”

Putney High School rowing coach Pete Brewer said the pier would increase risk for young and inexperien­ced rowers due to “increased freight traffic and... the probable increased volume of large passenger boats during curriculum hours”.

Thames Rowing Club, Westminste­r School and Dulwich College are among other organisati­ons with boathouses on the Tideway.

Uber Boat by Thames Clippers said all historic races in the Tideway would be able to go ahead under the plans and there would be no services running during the events.

The company said a risk assessment had been carried out and the new pier ‘poses no greater risk’, adding access for clubs would not be restricted.

The spokespers­on said: “Uber Boat by Thames Clippers has serviced Putney Pier for over nine years providing a fast, affordable route into London for leisure travellers and commuters. Earlier this year, we made a planning applicatio­n to construct a new pier to replace the existing one. A new pier would allow us to future proof the Putney river bus route and to explore a more frequent off-peak and weekend service in Putney. This will help more Londoners enjoy fast, convenient commutes and day trip journeys by river.”

Livett’s Launches has also applied to build a 74-metre extension to the existing Putney Pier and upgrade it. Wandsworth Council will make the final decision on both applicatio­ns.

 ?? FACUNDO ARRIZABALA­GA/MYLONDON ?? Gloriana sails ahead of the OxfordCamb­ridge boat race in Putney in April
FACUNDO ARRIZABALA­GA/MYLONDON Gloriana sails ahead of the OxfordCamb­ridge boat race in Putney in April

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