Delivery Plan for the Gateway

As a part of the Estuary, the Thames Gateway is a large area, which extends from the eastern part of the London City (Fig. 3.40) towards the North Sea coast. The area suffered from bad economic times and this is why it is one of the areas, which is supported by the so-called Objective 2 development programme. Beside the required economic regeneration, the area is located around the Thames estuary. The changes in climate, together with the firm tidal differences in the Thames, force the area to adapt to the circumstances. The regeneration is used to create jobs and houses, but also to prepare the area for a safe future. For the area a Delivery Plan has been developed (Department for communities and local government, 2007). This plan was put together in a cross-government way, making sure that the plan has focus and has commitment from across government. The plan is structured around three driving forces: enforcing a strong economy, creating a high quality of life for local communities and development of the area as an eco-region.

The objective to tackle climate change is a central issue in the development of the region as an eco-region. This objective is translated into the following concrete measures:

1. Preserve green spaces by locating new developments mainly on brown-fields;

2. Provide public transport in order to minimise the emissions from traffic;

Fig. 3.40 Eastern City of London (Source: Department for communities and local government, 2007)

Fig. 3.40 Eastern City of London (Source: Department for communities and local government, 2007)

3. Encourage the development of an eco-quarter, which is separately build and meets the highest sustainability standards;

4. Stimulate environmental infrastructure to ensure the use of renewable energy, community heating and cooling and large scale mixed-use developments;

5. Improve the (energy and water) efficiency in existing buildings;

6. Support the development of environmental technologies, services and jobs;

7. Develop the Gateway as a Zero Construction Waste Zone;

8. Make the Thames Gateway water-neutral.

Finally, the flood risk management of the Thames Gateway is mainly organised by the existing system of barriers, like the Thames Barrier. However, these physical defences cannot be extended continuously. Therefore, measures need to be taken in spatial planning. Every development needs to make sure that it is designed and laid out in a way that the consequences of river and surface water flooding are reduced. Therefore, river, sea and drainage water is integrated in all stages of the planning process, developments in high risk areas are to be avoided, developments are only

Fig. 3.41 Thames Barrier (Source: Environment Agency, 2007b)

allowed with a suitable protection and the re-creation or safeguarding of flood plains and wash-lands is undertaken to reduce risk for existing communities. The aims and standards are to be implemented in all spatial developments. They function as inspiration for the design and aim to improve the level of safety as well as spatial quality.

3.4.3 Element in the Gateway: Thames Barrier

One of the most strategic physical defences and the largest one in the Thames Estuary is the Thames Barrier (Fig. 3.41).

Up to the 1970s it was common to built higher and stronger river walls and embankments. After a serious flood in 1953 and the awareness that this flood could have caused enormous damage if it had reached the central parts of London, the opinion on the way flood defences are build changed radically. The defence no longer consists of higher and higher dikes, which block the Thames from view, but the design of the flood defence included rising gates. The advantages of this solution were a high level of protection, easily building and minor interference with river traffic. The rising gates provide the defence with the possibility to close in case of high tides in combination with a heavy storm. Together with several other physical barriers (Fig. 3.42), upstream and downstream, the flood protection is arranged and guaranteed up to 2030.

As weather becomes stormier, the South East of the UK tilts downward, the sea level rises and London is settling into its clay bed, the tides in the Thames Estuary rise with 60 cm per century. A storm surge happens if specific weather conditions (low pressure at the Atlantic) cause a hump of water in the relatively shallow

London's overall flood protection scheme

Baflting Barrier

Baflting Barrier

London's overall flood protection scheme

Fig. 3.42 London flood protection scheme (Source: Environment Agency, 2007b)

Southern North Sea. If this happens in combination with spring tide a real chance at floods in the Thames Estuary occurs. In this situation the Thames Barrier needs to close. During the last decades a slow rise in the amount of closures of the barrier can be noted (Fig. 3.43).

The closure of the barrier seals off the upper part of the Thames. If a high tidal surge is expected the rising gates are moved up into a 90° position in order to close the river (Fig. 3.44). Under normal conditions the gates rest out of sight in recessed concrete cills in the riverbed. Ships may pass the barrier easily.

For the future an increase of the overall risk is predicted due to a faster rising sea level, more rain and flow of rainwater through the Thames in winter and stormier weather. Currently is research being conducted within the Thames Estuary 2100 project on how and where the flood defence requires any adjustments. It seems evident that raising physical defences only will not be sufficient to meet the changes.

Barrier Closures

Thames Barrier Tldai and Fluvtally dominated Closures as at 20 March 2007








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Fig. 3.43 Increasing closures of the Thames Barrier (Source: Environment Agency, 2007c)

Gate i n no rrna I Gate rising Gate In flood Gate in underspill Gate in maintenance

Fig. 3.44 The barrier in action (Source: Environment Agency, 2007b)

Changes in the way urban developments are planned are necessary also. New developments are to be realised in lower risk areas, are more resilient to floods and have appropriate emergency planning.

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