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Floods (London Warning System)

Volume 929: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1977

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied that the London tidal flood warning system gives adequate safeguards to people who live or work in London; and whether he will make a statement.

The present arrangement for a tidal flood warning in London have been in existence since 1968. Since then the river walls have been increased in height to reduce the risk of flooding until the Thames Barrier is completed. Nevertheless an adequate warning system is still essential and we have, therefore, recently reviewed the arrangements in consultation with the authorities concerned.As a result of this review we have decided to improve the warning system by issuing a public alert about four hours ahead of expected flooding. This alert will serve two purposes. First it will help to ensure that people in the risk areas will be listening for the warning sirens which will still be sounded one hour ahead of expected flooding; and second, it will enable commuters to avoid being seriously inconvenienced by the disruption of public transport which will occur when the one hour warning is given. Details of the new system are being worked out by the authorities concerned with a view to bringing it into operation at the beginning of the 1977–78 flood season. Publicity will be given to the new arrangements during the summer.I should emphasise that the existing warning system will continue to operate until the end of April when the present flood season comes to an end.