River Users and Boat Owners Write Letter to EA on Objection to Bridge Lights

A group of river users and boat owners have written an open letter to the Environment Agency (EA) to refute their objections against the Make Henley Shine planning application for the sustainable LED lighting installation on Henley bridge.

In the letter which is signed by Judy McAlpine, Chair of Trad Boat Festival, Adam Toop from the Rose Toop Collection, Chris Taylor from the Illuminated Boat Parade, Henley Boating Company, Hobbs of Henley, River & Rowing Museum, Rivertime Boat Trust, Leander, Henley Rowing Club and Remenham Rowing Club it says, “The River Thames is a working river which provides tourism, jobs and livelihoods. As the detailed, independent reports in the Make Henley Shine application have highlighted, Henley Bridge and river area is in a ‘Suburban/Urban medium to high district brightness for a well inhabited urban settlement and town centre’ with night-time activity. Contrary to your comments, we believe that navigating the river around the bridge would benefit from the additional gentle, warm white LED lighting of the bridge area with respect to their night vision. This is especially true for people hiring boats and also, the lighting would help vessels avoid previous crashes into the historic bridge as a result of a lack of adequate lighting. Also, the broader scheme itself aims to reduce overall lighting in the vicinity of the bridge.”

“In contrast to your comments, we believe that Make Henley Shine will boost Henley’s economy by encouraging tourism to transform this dark area to a beautiful, gentle, warm-white light where people will want to spend more time on the river and surrounding areas. Since the pandemic and the recent floods, we need the Environment Agency and authorities to acknowledge the need to support river-based businesses from boat hire, to hospitality venues in the surrounding area and in the town. The proposed sustainable LED lighting design from Make Henley Shine will provide a welcoming experience on the bridge throughout the year. Furthermore, the project’s broader vision to drive a sustainable, integrated lighting strategy for the town as a whole, not just the bridge, is to be applauded.”

“In conclusion, we urge you to re-consider your response and withdraw your comments which are inaccurate and misleading.”

In a separate letter to Head of Planning at SODC, Jonathan Hobbs from Hobbs of Henley has responded to the points in the EA’s objection,

EA “The masters of vessels navigating at night rely on their night vision and their ability to see the navigation lights of other boats. The presence of bright lights on bridges and highways can adversely affect people’s night vision.” The highway across Henley bridge already sees constant bright lights from vehicles’ headlights traversing it as well as well as bright street and building lights surrounding it.  There are blind spot areas close to and underneath the arches where it is very difficult to see small boats approaching.  The proposed lighting scheme would provide enhanced vision for all size of vessels.

EA “The presence of lights over the bridge navigation arches may obscure the fainter navigation lights of approaching vessels beyond the bridge arch.”  The application clearly states that the lights will be a warm white light and therefore will not obscure navigation lights.

EA “Henley bridges’ location is on a bend in the river already restricts visibility and the lights could endanger the safety of craft navigating in the proximity of Henley Bridge.”  The approach from both sides of Henley bridge is NOT on a bend.  The proposed lighting will definitely aid those navigating the bridge in the dark hours, particularly in the busy times of the summer season during Henley Royal Regatta and Henley Festival.

The presence of large numbers of rowing craft with a low profile and single white light on the bow and stern may make them hard to see.   The application clearly states that the lights will only be on between dusk and midnight and therefore this statement is irrelevant as rowers ONLY train and race in daylight hours.

Daniel Bausor, Chairman of Make Henley Shine said, “We are encouraged by the open letter from the boating and river community who refute the inaccurate comments from the Environment Agency on the Make Henley Shine planning application. This community from Leander Club and Hobbs of Henley to the River & Rowing Museum and the Trad Boat Festival, are united in their message to the Environment Agency and authorities to support river-based businesses from boat hire, to hospitality venues in and around the bridge as well as in the town.”


1 comment
  1. David Dickie says:

    Across the country Dark Skies festivals are being organised to not only ensure residents can fully appreciate the milky way but to help nature restore itself. Moths, insects are an important cog in the animal world with swifts and swallows especially dependent. Henley is in danger of being over used.


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