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Thames Barrier to protect Londoners for the next 60 years

PUBLISHED: 16:01 08 April 2009 | UPDATED: 11:08 12 August 2010

A NEW Thames Barrier could be built within decades with the existing facility expected to provide flood protection for an extra 40 years, according to experts

A NEW Thames Barrier could be built within decades with the existing facility expected to provide flood protection for an extra 40 years, according to experts.

Following a six-year investigation into the future of the defence system, the Environment Agency announced the continuation until at least 2070.

But it coincided with the launch of a consultation on the Thames Estuary Plan - or 'TE2100' - showing recommended options to manage the increasing threat of tidal flooding for London and the Thames estuary through to the year 2100.

Dr Paul Leinster, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: "The launch of TE2100 is a significant day; it gives confidence to more than one-and-a-quarter million people living and working in the estuary floodplain that the risk is manageable.

"This plan has looked at the worst case scenario for climate change. If over time sea levels are found to be rising faster then expected then we are already prepared and have identified the necessary solutions."

Based on the latest science on climate change the project recommends maintaining and upgrading the current flood defence system through to around 2070, when either the current Thames Barrier will have to be modified or a new barrier will need to be built. A decision will not be required on this until the middle of the century.

Sea-level rise evidence and the current Barrier's capability are two of the key findings in the research into the future of flood risk management within the Thames estuary.

Dr Leinster added: "Rigorous study and scientific research into the estuary, the defences, climate change and our options for the future, have culminated in a plan that will safeguard the Thames estuary and the people, buildings and natural habitats that make this area so unique."

A three month consultation will be held to help finalise the plan before it is submitted to the Government early next year.

The increasing risk of tidal flooding due to climate change, more people living and working in the defended floodplain and ageing flood defences means the TE2100 plan is a pivotal point in the history of the Thames and provides an action plan for the future.

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