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Adapting London’s flood defences to climate change.

Today is Friday, 17 May 2024.

As you may know, London, the 9 million inhabitants capital of England and the United Kingdom, is crossed by the River Thames. It is situated 80 km upstream from the Thames estuary on the North Sea, therefore subject to tides, strong tides. It can speed close to 10 km an hour and a tidal range of up to seven metres.

A few days ago the so-called Thames Barrier, which defends the capital against flooding, reached its 40th anniversary. And the authorities' speeches, in addition to praise so far, have also been full of concerns and warnings.

In its 40 years, the barrier has closed 221 times for flood defence purposes, underlining its importance.

“Thames Barrier and the other flood defences across the wider estuary protect 125 square kilometres of central London, encompassing 1.42 million people, four World Heritage sites, more than 4,000 listed buildings, 711 healthcare sites, 116 railway and tube stations and more than 300km of major roads. The value of residential property protected stands at £321 billion”. See the 8 May 2024 press release related to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

And when praising what engineers, maintenance and operations teams have done so far to protect London, authorities mentioned the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan: “However, we will not rest on our laurels given the threat of rising sea levels, which is why we have committed to working with partners to review and decide on an end-of-century option by 2040 in our Thames Estuary 2100 Plan, to ensure the capital is protected over the longer term.”

“We need to adapt to climate change along the Thames Estuary. As sea levels rise and defences get older, the risk of flooding from the Thames increases. The Thames Estuary 2100 Plan outlines how to manage this risk. Developed by the Environment Agency and its partners, the Plan sets out a vision for the estuary’s future.”

The Thames Estuary 2100 Plan was published on April 2023 and is divided into 23 areas called ‘policy units’. Each policy unit has a page that explains how to manage flood risk in that area.

Click at the image below  - London City Policy Unit Boundary - for the portal with a collection of information about the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan.


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“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty”

Madame Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) Chemist & physicist. French, born Polish.

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