Monday, October 24, 2005

London flood risk ignored

THE LONDON Assembly last week issued a report warning that the risk of major flooding in London is not being taken seriously enough – especially in the East London Thames Gateway flood plain.
This area is downstream of the Thames flood barrier and is the scene of a massive increase in building and development. New estates of lucrative luxury flats are springing up all along the river banks.
There is confusion over who should maintain flood defences in the Thames Estuary, which is home to 1.25 million people. Around half a million homes are prone to flooding and the threat is growing.
Green Party leader Darren Johnson, who chairs the report committee said: “In New Orleans the world has had a tragic reminder of the threat from natural disaster and the impact that flooding can have.
“It is therefore vital that lessons are learned and action taken immediately to streamline responsibilities for flood defences and planning control in the Thames Gateway.
“Much of the development area is on the flood plain, which will put London at greater risk.”
The committee reckons that five per cent of east London’s defences are in a poor condition and the situation could be worse further down river towards the coast.
The report says that private landowners are responsible for maintaining many of the capital’s 2,400 defence structures but in many cases it is impossible to identify who owns the land.