14 December 2017


The Environment Agency - Protecting London and the Thames Estuary from rising sea levels

The Environment Agency sets out London's flood defences, along with the role business can play on this issue, to the CBI, highlighting their Thames Estuary 2100 Plan, detailing how they plan to manage tidal flood risk in the Thames Estuary throughout this century. 

The Environment Agency - Protecting London and the Thames Estuary from rising sea levels

While we can be thankful London does not experience the kind of hurricanes recently seen on the other side of the Atlantic, we have seen some dramatic weather in recent years. Storm surges pose the most significant flood risk in the Thames estuary. In January 2016, a storm surge resulted in the evacuation of thousands along the East Coast. Luckily, thanks to its fantastic flood defences, this was barely noticed in London.

Nevertheless, climate change means the risk of tidal flooding is increasing and is set to get worse. We need to ensure our defences continue to protect us, now and into the future.

We are all familiar with the iconic Thames Barrier, but it is just one part of a system of tidal defences protecting London and the Thames estuary. 350 kilometres of flood walls and other defences make up the rest of the system.

Together, these defences protect 1.3 million people, £275 billion worth of property, centres of government and global business, major infrastructure, and world heritage sites. Further development is planned, raising the value of what the defences must protect.

It is crucial we continue to invest in this critical flood defence infrastructure, both now and in the long term.

Recognising this, the Environment Agency worked with the public and private sector to draw up the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan, setting out how to manage tidal flood risk in the estuary throughout this century.

Over the past few years we have made headway on the initial stages of the plan, including establishing a 10-year programme to refurbish and replace existing tidal defences.

We have also been working hard to safeguard areas for future defences, influence the reshaping of the riverside, and planning for ‘end of century’ options, which may include building a new cross-river barrier. 

However, putting the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan into action is not something we can do alone. We are working closely with local authorities and have input to the Mayor’s draft London Environment Strategy.

Businesses also have a vital part to play. By supporting the plan, and working with us to achieve the actions within it, you can help manage the risk of flooding to your company.

The plan needs not only support but also funding. Government requires us to seek contributions from those benefitting from any new or improved flood defences. Without these contributions, London’s people and property will be at greater risk.

We will shortly be commencing a 10-year review of the Thames Estuary 2100 plan and would like businesses in the Thames Estuary to have a say. If you are interested in finding out more please contact us.   

Find out more about the Thames Estuary 2100 plan

With thoughtful planning and close partnership working, we can ensure London continues to thrive, protected from the growing risk of tidal flooding.