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Thames Barrier

January 27, 2003

Question written on 27/01/2003

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research she intends to carry out in the next 12 months to determine whether the Thames Barrier is sufficiently able to protect London in the event of a tidal surge.

Answered by Elliot Morley

The Thames Barrier and associated defences provide a high standard of protection to London and the Thames Estuary against a combination of tidal/fluvial flood risks, the principal risk being from tidal surge events.A generous allowance for sea level rise was built into the design for the Thames Barrier and associated defences and thus we have today a standard of 0.05 per cent. risk of flooding from tidal surge in any one year. As sea level rises, this standard of protection will reduce as planned to the design standard of 0.1 per cent. risk of flooding from tidal surge by the year 2030. This will provide a level of protection equivalent to 2 metres above the maximum level of the 1953 flood event and is the highest standard of protection in the UK.The Environment Agency, with Defra support, is engaged in a number of studies and investigations which are reviewing the current and future needs of London’s tidal defences, including the overarching planning and research project “Planning for Flood Risk management in the Thames Estuary”. This is developing a flood risk management strategy for London and the Thames Estuary for the next 100 years, and includes climate change research, geomorphological and flood modelling, engineering studies and the development of management intervention and decision-testing models. This is the first year of a six year project which will provide a plan for the establishment of the next generation of tidal defences for London and the Thames Estuary post 2030.