Press release

Tidal flood risk in Thames estuary increases in line with predictions

The Environment Agency presented today (13 October 2016) its 5 year review of tidal flood risk indicators in the Thames estuary.

The TE2100 plan
The TE2100 plan

The review shows that, although tidal flood risk is increasing, it is in line with the forecasts on which its Thames Estuary 2100 (TE2100) flood risk management plan is based.

The TE2100 plan sets out how increasing flood risk in the Thames estuary can be managed through to the end of the century. The review, presented today at ‘Flood Expo’, Excel Centre, London, looks at 10 indicators, reflecting different aspects of tidal flood risk, to see how they have changed since the original TE2100 plan. Any changes to those indicators, if not predicted in the plan, could result in bringing forward, or safely deferring, the flood risk management activities and investment needed to keep people and property safe over the century.

The review found that:

  • sea levels in the estuary have continued to rise within the bounds predicted by the TE2100 plan
  • the amount of people and property at risk has increased, with over £275 billion of residential property, and 1.3 million people living within the tidal floodplain in London and the Thames estuary; an increase of £75 billion and 50,000 respectively since the original Thames Estuary 2100 plan assessment
  • 98% of the 3,800 flood defence structures in the estuary are currently in good or fair condition
  • analysis of trends in tidal surge heights and river flows gave no indication that these factors are currently increasing flood risk in the estuary
  • although the Thames barrier operated 50 times in the winter of 2013/14, this has reverted to a more typical pattern of operation in subsequent years and the overall trend of closures over time does not currently indicate that the frequency of required operation is increasing
  • based on the results, the timings of the flood risk management actions set out in the TE2100 plan remain appropriate

Howard Davidson, Operations Director at the Environment Agency, said:

This report shows that we can monitor how flood risk in the estuary is changing. This is fundamental in being able to continue to manage that risk and keep people safe.

It also shows that the scenarios and models used to create the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan are still valid. It gives us and our partners, who have a role in reducing flood risk, confidence to continue the actions set out in the plan; maintaining a high standard of protection for London and estuary communities.

The review is the first of many over 5 year intervals which will track the indicators of flood risk over the century. It will adapt as improvements in methods for collecting data are developed. The next review will be in 2020 when the full TE2100 plan will be reviewed.

Published 13 October 2016