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Managing flood risk in London

Our focus is strengthening borough capacity in this area. 

  • By Jennifer Sibley

London is at risk of tidal flooding from the River Thames; flooding from other rivers, such as the Ravensbourne or Quaggy; surface water and ground water. London, like most urban areas, is most vulnerable to surface water floodiExample of a green wall on the side of an office building.ng. This is because built up areas have reduced natural drainage and heavy rainfall can swiftly overwhelm the drainage network, quickly leading to flooding of low-lying areas. Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall, whilst London’s growth will mean that more people, property and infrastructure will be at risk. Take a look at our flooding video.

Partnerships

Every London borough is responsible for flooding as a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA). They work in partnership with the Environment Agency, Thames Water and other stakeholders to manage flood risk. LLFAs must identify the flood risks in their area, what interventions could help to mitigate those risks and apply for funding for interventions where there is a good business case. We are working to strengthen these partnerships.  

London Councils appoints seven members to the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. The Chair of the London Councils Transport and Environment Committee and the Chair of the Thames RFCC has agreed joint working arrangements. Through this committee we have secured a team of Thames Flood Advisers who provide additional capacity to the London boroughs as needed on flood risk management capital projects. 

Sustainable drainage

Both the Mayor's Transport Strategy and London Environment Strategy identify the risks to London from surface water and strengthen Mayoral policy relating to encouraging sustainable drainage. TfL has published its guide to incorporating SUDS in roads and public realm, called 'SUDS in London - a Guide'. 

The GLA is mapping SUDS across London. Boroughs are encouraged to submit sites for inclusion to the GLA. The GLA has also mapped London's street trees

Map of London showing sites of sustainable drainage