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Environment Agency rejects calls for new Thames Barrier

One of the engineers that built the Thames Barrier in the 1980s has called for a replacement to be built “urgently”.


Thames Barrier: Designed to withstand a 1 in 1000 year flood event

In a letter to the Times newspaper last week, Richard Bloore said that the recent flooding in New York should serve as a warning to London.

“With extreme weather and sea level rises caused by global warming, a replacement barrier should be planned urgently,” he said.

The Environment Agency, which operates the barrier, said it had no plans to replace the structure before 2070.

“The existing defences are already of a higher standard than anywhere else in the country. They currently provide an even greater degree of protection than originally anticipated,” said an Environment Agency spokesman.

The barrier opened in 1982, and was designed to protect London against a 1 in 1,000 year flood.

The spokesman said original designs failed to anticipate sea level rise caused by climate change, but that the barrier was designed to accommodate a greater rise in river levels than has so far happened.

He added that the Environment Agency planned to upgrade some of London’s flood defences from around 2030. This would include “modifications” to the Thames Barrier.

“We are unlikely to see major changes to the existing defence systems (including a new barrier) until 2070,” he said.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Barry Walton

    Is the barrier still capable of withstanding a projected 1 in 1000 year event from the sea, from the rivers or some combination of both?

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