Thames barrier strike risks 30ft floods around central London’s landmarks

THAMES Barrier staff are set to strike next month at high tide — threatening to leave some of our most famous landmarks 30ft under water.

Up to 3,000 staff at the Environment Agency, which maintains the river’s lifesaving defences, are already working to rule over a long-running salary dispute.

The Palace of Westminster could end up 30ft underwater in a worst-case scenario
Handout pic – refer to Picture Desk
Thames Barrier staff are set to strike next month at high tide
Getty – Contributor

But next month the problem will hit crisis point as engineers and other staff who operate the Thames Barrier are to strike.

They have selected days when the tides will be at their highest in a bid to win their dispute — and experts have warned of the apocalyptic devastation it may cause.

In 2014 the Environment Agency created a “doomsday”-style map which showed the effects of rising sea levels without the barrier being in place.

Areas in serious danger of flooding included Westminster, the O2 Arena, Tower Bridge and heavily populated areas near the river — such as Southwark, the Isle of Dogs, Whitechapel and West Ham.

Worst-case scenarios predicted some parts of central London may end up 30ft under water.

A source told The Sun: “The Thames Barrier staff will be striking in September over poor pay and a 1 per cent or no pay rise for the past 10 years.

“They will be striking at the highest tides of the month leaving London open to flooding if the Thames Barrier cannot be closed.

“The staff will also be unavailable to close Dartford Creek Barrier, London City Airport and Barking Creek Barrier.

“This will leave these areas open to extreme risk to flooding.

“Unison has been working with other EA staff over the past few months and more than 3,000 EA employees are set to take part in the ongoing strike action.


“The goodwill of EA staff suspending action to help with major events has run dry as it has not been recognised by the Environment Agency or the government.”
‘Barrier’s been shut 184 times’

The Thames Barrier, which cost £534million when it opened in 1982, is designed to protect central London from tidal surges.

Staff have closed it 184 times to prevent flooding since it first became operational.

Its ten huge gates can be raised five storeys — effectively blocking the Thames.

There are more than 80 employees working there and The Sun has been told 50 of them have already agreed to strike.

Walk-out dates are set for two weeks a fortnight apart — September 2 to 8 and September 23 to 29.

It could also cause major problems for the London Regatta — where thousands are set to paddle the Thames on the last day of the second week of action.

The source added: “I’m not sure there will be enough people to operate the Thames Barrier and associated gates safely.”

Flood fears in Britain were heightened last week when Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire was damaged in heavy rain.

Its dam was reported to be at serious risk of collapse — forcing 1,500 people to leave their homes in Whaley Bridge.

Chinook helicopters were drafted in by the Royal Air Force to drop sandbags on the damage.

Management at the Environment Agency are understood to be keen to keep discussions open with striking Thames Barrier staff.

They also hope to be able to draw on staff from across the country when key workers down tools.

An EA spokesman told The Sun yesterday: “We have robust arrangements to ensure that the Thames Barrier can continue to operate as necessary to protect London against the risk of flooding.”


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