Location, location, location
The Future of Flooding in London: How does flood risk affect the place you live?
Flooding and managing flooding costs the UK around £2.2 billion each year. £800 million each year is spent on flood and coastal defences and an average of £1,400 million on damage.
For many people, flooding is a fact of life. Around 10% of homes in the UK are at risk form coastal or inland flooding. Climate change could increase the amount of homes that are at risk of flooding, while pressure for new homes could mean more developments being built in floodplains. Flood defences not only protect people and the houses we live in, but also hospitals, schools, the emergency services and transport.
Could a changing climate mean that more people choose to live in places that are away from the coast and rivers?
Download the map and mark on it where you live and the places that you think will be most affected by flooding. Refer to the map of changing sea levels in 'A changing climate'. Where would you choose to live?
Look at the maps of London, what are the areas that could be most at risk from flooding? Can you identify the places that are at low risk, medium risk and at high risk?
Should we build new homes in the Thames Estuary?
One of the reasons why the Thames Estuary is vulnerable to flooding is because the south-east of Britain is slowly tilting downwards and sea levels are rising so the high tide in central London also rises. There are plans to regenerate the area that is home to 1.6 million people and contains some of the poorest areas in the country. Plans for the area called the Thames Gateway stretches 60 km from East London on both sides of the Thames and the Estuary. Some of the area nearest to the Thames used to be where many industries were based, but since their decline the area now has many empty, abandoned buildings. The Thames Gateway also includes brownfield land, farmland and marshland.
Download information about the risk of flooding in London
What's your position?
There are many different opinions on whether homes should be built in the Thames Estuary because of the risk of flooding in the future. You will be given one of the roles below to think about what your position will be on the development of building homes here. You will be making a one minute presentation to say what you are concerned about, then take part in a vote.
Be ready to tell the rest of the class what you think.
You can only speak for 1 minute.
Local residents in the East end of London
You are quite shocked to find out that your home could start getting flooded in the next ten years or so if the Thames Barrier is not improved. Think about how you will feel when you are older – will you stay here or move away? But you think your house could go up in value because of the Olympics as long as the developers and the government plan it properly
People living in the village of Jaywick (East of London - down the river estuary towards the sea)
You remember the last time the river Thames flooded. 30 people were killed in their homes and there was thousands of pounds worth of damage!
You are worried that if the Government keeps building flood defences it will just funnel the water up the river to central London. You don’t want to loose your home either. But having experienced being flooded you don’t want other people to suffer like you have!
You have the power to say what you would like done locally and make your case to the local authority
The Environment Agency
It is your responsibility to make sure people know the risks involved in building in the floodplain. Your opinion is that new development shouldn’t be where the risk is greatest. You need more money from the Government to help to you pay for new flood management systems and people to monitor the river.
You think there are lots of other things people could be doing to prevent climate change – this would mean the risk of flooding wouldn’t keep getting worse!
You believe the development will boost the economy of the region. You have ultimate responsibility for the safety and welfare of people living next to the Thames. If you don’t do something to prevent a disaster you’ll be in real trouble later! No one votes for losers!
You manage a huge budget. Can you afford to give money to the Environment Agency when you have schools and hospitals to run?
Can you tell developers to build better when they make a lot of money for the country in taxes?
Everyone is looking to you for guidance – it might be an idea to find out what other interest groups are saying before you make your own decision!
The Government has said it wants lots of new houses East of London along the river estuary. That means you could make loads of money building and selling houses. If people are stupid enough to buy a house that could flood then so be it! However, you are starting to realise that there might not be very many people wanting to buy your houses if you don’t think about the risk of flooding. They’ll buy the houses that other companies are making which have systems that prevent their homes getting ruined (e.g. stilts, flood warning systems). You are going to need to decide whether you want to get involved in building here.
The Local Authority
You are really worried about more development in your area but think it will also be great for the local economy, especially with the Olympics. There will be more people to do jobs and make money. However, you think developers have to be clever about developing in the floodplain because otherwise you will have to pay money to repair the area when there is a flood.
You are not sure how much attention to pay to the Environment Agency. You need the Government to tell you whether you should always put the Environment Agency’s position first.
Find out more:
Interactive guides to the places that are affected by the development
Official Thames Gateway website
Flooding in the Thames region
Make your presentation!
See if you can fit all the words below into a 1 minute presentation.
Have you made up your mind?
Vote YES or NO
How did you make your decision?
Who made the most persuasive argument?
What persuaded you – was it facts or the way someone spoke?
Reporting on risk
Now you need to draw together all the attitudes and opinions of the people involved to show that you understand the issues surrounding this important decision.
You will be writing a newspaper report for a national newspaper.
Download the news template to help you write your article
Download At Risk to find out about other places that may be at risk of flooding