Tens of thousands of properties are at a high risk or medium risk of flooding, as the effects of climate change lead to wetter winters.
The thought of a flooding crisis conjures up horrible images – ruined houses, temporarily homeless residents, streets gushing with dark, murky water – a disastrous situation which has led authorities to implement increased flooding prevention controls in recent years. A new London Assembly report has stated, however, that around 24,000 London properties are currently at a high risk of river flooding. Although there are currently plans in place to deal with a flooding situation in London, only about ten thousand at-risk properties would be protected by such precautions, leaving many in a precarious position. With the report warning of a further increase in the likelihood of river flooding, over 140,000 London residents are now considered to be at a high risk of surface water flooding. But how can local authorities look to solve such a potentially damaging problem? The Flood Risks in London report concludes that the solution is to firstly implement a system of sustainable drainage, and secondly, to invest in river restoration.
The Problem – Climate Change:
The key reason for the increased risk of river flooding is said to be climate change. The Flood Risks in London report stated that the effects of climate change would likely lead to drier summers and wetter winters, which in Southern England could lead to rivers overflowing their banks, particularly in and around the capital. Officials of the Environment Committee, which sits in the London Assembly, have stressed that although those around the Thames are at risk, the problem extends much further. Smaller rivers which eventually flow into the Thames are also likely to be susceptible to flooding, putting those for miles around in the danger zone, many of which would have presumed themselves to be far enough away from the Thames to be safe from the worries of river flooding. It was even stated that for many, a small river bursting its banks and escaping its channels could be the first they would know of their local river – a nasty first encounter.
Although the findings of this report might seem like a doomsday warning for some, it isn’t all bad news – the report concluded with a simple solution to protect properties and people. It suggested that preventative measures should now extend to building a sustainable drainage system and to work on river restoration, to make space for flood waters to be held higher up in river catchments, which would then soak back into the ground in due time. With the inevitability of increased rainfall in the winters and therefore an increase in flooding, it seems paramount that work is done to restore river banks and create sustainable drainage. Doing so could minimise damage and protect against a repeat of the floods which happened in February of the year when the River Thames burst its banks