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Extending horizons


I would like to reassure readers that the Thames Barrier will continue to provide the highest standard of protection to London until 2030 and beyond (NCE 17 January).

The original designers of the Barrier showed considerable foresight in both designing a structure to a very high standard and including a generous allowance for sea level rise up to 2030. It will therefore be 28 years before this design criteria is reached, but as civil engineers will know, a well designed and properly maintained structure will exceed its design life by a considerable margin.

The study referred to in your article is an important part of the continuous maintenance improvement programme, which ensures that the Thames Barrier is kept in an optimum operational state of readiness.

This has proved its worth in the 64 flood defence closures since 1983 - 24 of which were during the exceptional flood risk season of winter 2000/01.

The Environment Agency has embarked on a major five year project -'Planning for flood risk management' - to extend the planning horizon for tidal defences in the Thames estuary to 2100.

Andy Batchelor, tidal defence manager, Environment Agency, Thames Barrier, Eastmoor Street, Charlton, London SE7 8LX

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