A GIANT new barrier is expected to be built in the Thames to protect London from floods as sea levels rise.
The Environment Agency warns that the city faces a potentially lethal combination of rising waters and geological subsidence in which southeast England is sinking into the Earth’s crust.
By the year 2100, the water level in the Thames could on average be almost 1m higher than now — more during high tides and storm surges.
“The current barrier will protect the city for the next 25 years but after that we need to build up our defences,” said EA scientist Tim Reeder.
For the next few decades, this will mainly mean upgrading the nation’s 2000km of sea defences and 8000km of river flood defences.
London has often faced floods. The 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys described one event that left Westminster under 2m of water. Since then, London has sunk by about 1m.
The last disaster was in 1928, when a tidal surge flooded the city, drowning 14 people. In 1953, the capital only narrowly escaped another catastrophe from a tidal surge that caused 300 deaths elsewhere along Britain’s east coast.