Plans to protect the Thames Gateway for the next 100 years reached an important stage this week as officials completed the second phase of the Thames Estuary 2100 project.
The project team have identified six areas along the gateway that it wants to use as flood storage areas and says this strategy could prolong the life of the current hard defences for 60-80 years.Project manager Sarah Lavery told NCE 'The second phase is completed and we have identified the routes that we may take. Before we were carrying out lots of studies but now the new routes are revealing themselves,'Lavery clarified that the storage areas are not currently developed and that the Environment Agency is working closely with the Thames Gateway delivery unit to ensure that this does not change until it has consulted on its plans.A targeted consultation with landowners and local authorities will run until August when an open consultation will then be launched. A full draft plan will then be developed by December 2008 and formal statutory approval will be granted in 2009. The current system is considered to offer an adequate level of protection (1:2000) until 2030. Since its construction in 1982 the Thames Barrier has been used 98 times.The Agency estimated that use would increase over time to 30 closures per year by 2030. Last year is was closed only 3 times.