Institution of Mechanical Engineers IMechE

London's Tidal Flood Risk Management System

12 May 2010

London is at risk of flooding from the North Sea (tidal flooding), heavy rainfall (surface water flooding) and freshwater Thames and the tributaries to the Thames (fluvial flooding). This risk is managed by the system of flood defences (the Thames Barrier, other gates and flood walls) and the drainage networks. The high population density along the banks for the River Thames, coupled with the importance of the city as a business and financial hub, would mean any significant flooding would be catastrophic and the risk is increasing with sea levels rising, tidal surges increasing in height and rainfall volume intensifying.

This lecture will explain and describe London's Tidal Flood Risk Management Scheme which protects London against tidal flooding, cover historical context, past experience, the present day, and future plans.  It will look in detail at the Thames Barrier and other major flood gates and the Thames Barrier’s role as an adaptable piece of engineering. 

The factors that will be used to determine the engineering requirements for new or updated flood risk management solutions on the Thames will be presented and the longer-term issues that affect flood risk management in the capital like tide-level rise and the downward tilting of south east England will be discussed.

Martin Earlam, The Environment Agency has been a chartered Mechanical Engineer since 1993 and obtained a B. Eng and M. Eng from Brunel University. During his career he has been employed with the UK Atomic Energy Authority, BP and the Thames Barrier. He joined Thames Barrier in 1994 as Senior Mechanical Engineer and was promoted to Engineering Services Manager in 1997, Improvements Team Leader in 2000 and Asset Manager in 2002.

Martin has been involved in advising of the movable barriers in the Netherlands and those under construction to protect Venice and St. Petersburg. He has also been operator of the Thames Barrier having closed it over 50 times to protect London. Martin's role is currently Thames Barrier and Associated Gates Asset Management Team Leader.

This lecture is FREE and open to all.

Start time: 18:30 with refreshments available from 18:00

Approximate finish time: 20:00


London Tidal Flood Control

: Martin Earlam, Thames Barrier Asset Manager Team Leader

Duration: 1 hr