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Glass barriers could be installed along Thames to shield London from catastrophic flooding

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 29/07/2021 Nicholas Cecil
a woman walking in the rain holding an umbrella on a rainy day: Summer weather July 25th 2021 © PA Summer weather July 25th 2021

Plans are being drawn up to protect London from catastrophic flooding which could see a glass wall built along a stretch of the Thames.

City chiefs are warning of the threat to life from flash floods and from rivers bursting their banks as sea levels rise.

After sudden downpours caused flooding in several parts of the capital this week, Environment Secretary George Eustice told the Standard: “The flooding in London, along with the terrible scenes in Germany, Belgium, China and India, is a dramatic reminder of the more extreme weather that climate change is already bringing.

“We are standing by communities and bolstering defences with record investment, with more than £54 million being spent in London this year alone. This investment will support the delivery of more than 50 flood schemes to tackle all forms of flooding.”

diagram, engineering drawing © Provided by Evening Standard

Council chiefs in the capital are responding to the growing threats:


Video: Water flows through London shopping centre (Sky News)

The City of London Corporation is considering extra protective barriers, as seen above, up to one metre tall and possibly made from glass, which would be put on top of the existing river walls to guard against floods caused by rising sea levels. It highlighted that many of the existing walls, embankments and smaller barriers will need raising and major refurbishment or replacement between 2035 and 2049.

It is considering options on how to improve the protective barriers along a 1.5-mile stretch including a glass parapet on top of the existing defences, raising them, “demountable” barriers, flood and storm tide gates, or “self-activated” barriers triggered by rising floodwaters.

Enfield, which has more watercourses than any other borough, 62 miles, is warning that they “represent a source of flood risk, potentially threatening life and damaging property”. The council is proposing a string of measures to protect against flooding including considering the removal of permitted development rights in areas subject to high flood risk.

Richmond, the only borough to straddle both sides of The Thames, also “recognises that flooding poses a risk to life, not just property”. A recently updated Strategic Flood Risk Assessment Level 1, prepared by Metis Consultants, stresses: “Development needs to ensure that it does not impede on the emergency services or the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames’ Emergency Planning Unit’s response to any flood events.”

Mr Eustice announced on Thursday morning that more than £860 million is to be invested in flood prevention schemes across the UK over the next year, with 1,000 local schemes to protect hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

It comes as heavy downpours battered the country, causing disruption from Scotland to London.

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