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Coverage of Thames Barrier celebrating 40 years protecting London

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Environment Agency, Flood

There has been widespread positive media coverage today following the 40th anniversary of the late Queen officially opening the Environment Agency’s largest asset, the Thames Barrier, on 8 May 1984.

Publications including the BBC, Financial Times, Independent, Daily Express, The York Press, Standard, Greenwich Wire, and Lowestoft Journal published stories marking the occasion.

Operated and maintained by the Environment Agency, the Thames Barrier and the other flood defences across the wider estuary protect 125 square kilometres of central London, encompassing 1.42 million people, four World Heritage sites, more than 4,000 listed buildings, 711 healthcare sites, 116 railway and tube stations and more than 300km of major roads. The value of residential property protected stands at £321 billion.

Without the barrier, storm surges and frequent tidal flooding of the Thames would submerge buildings along the river as well as the underground, wrecking properties and livelihoods and causing billions of pounds worth of devastating damage.

In its 40 years, the barrier has closed 221 times for flood defence purposes, underlining its importance to helping London thrive.

Andy Batchelor, Thames Tidal Defences Operations Manager, said:

Having witnessed and worked on the Thames Barrier’s opening, I am immensely proud of the protection it has provided London for the past 40 years and will continue to provide for years to come.

Its reliability and effectiveness demonstrate the sophistication of its design by a very talented group of engineers and the continued maintenance and operation carried out by the Barrier team.

However, we will not rest on our laurels given the threat of rising sea levels, which is why we have committed to working with partners to review and decide on an end-of-century option by 2040 in our Thames Estuary 2100 Plan, to ensure the capital is protected over the longer term.


Caroline Douglass, Executive Director for Flood and Coastal Risk Management at the Environment Agency, said:

The Environment Agency is hugely proud of the protection provided by the Thames Barrier, which has defended London for more than 40 years and continues to do so now and into the future.

Alongside the invaluable role of the barrier, the approach set out in our Thames Estuary 2100 plan ensures we and our partners take the steps required between now and the end of the century to bolster the capital’s resilience to climate change and enable it to continue to thrive, by effectively managing flood risk from rivers and the sea in London.

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