Thames21 calls for re-think of current London flood risk management proposals

Despite the capital being at increasing risk of surface water flooding, positive progress towards increasing use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) would be reversed by proposals currently out for consultation. London waterway charity Thames21 urges that these proposals are amended and that Londoners and organisations across the capital respond to the consultation to help make this happen.

London is at increasing risk of surface water flooding as a result of paving over green space amounting to an area 22 times the size of Hyde Park in the last 25 years. Last winter saw large parts of the capital under water with devastating impact on affected communities. In addition to the problems arising from flooding, local rivers suffer from poor water quality, have low aesthetic appeal and as a result, community engagement with their local watercourses is often limited.

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, which provide green spaces and basins where rainwater can soak away, are a highly important solution to all of these issues. With good engagement and design not only can they manage flood risk but can deliver many more benefits besides (often with little additional cost), including improving water quality, increasing biodiversity and providing better places to live, work and play.  SuDS have good support in local communities, such as those in Enfield where Thames21 and the London Borough of Enfield has ensured that the Salmons Brook is now benefitting from newly installed SuDS, which clean toxic road run-off before it contaminates the river.

Thames21 and London Borough of Enfield have planted SuDS along the Salmons Brook

Unfortunately the positive progress towards the effective implementation of SuDS, which has been worked towards since the Pitt Review on the 2007 floods, has been entirely reversed by the revised proposals currently out for consultation.  Not only do the current proposals now fall short of implementing an effective system, there is actually a real danger that they are weakening the current planning policy for SuDS.

Thames21 CEO Debbie Leach says:   “These proposals leave decisions to include SuDS effectively in new developments almost entirely in the hands of individual developers, rather than fully enshrining them in government policy. With flood risk rising and the consequences of global warming increasingly apparent in our towns and cities, this is completely the wrong way to go.”

The approach proposed in the consultation would not progress the implementation of the recommendations of the Pitt Review and misses a huge opportunity to realise additional, multiple benefits of water quality improvements as well as biodiversity and amenity enhancements. This contravenes Defra’s own recommendations for catchment based action to contribute to the delivery of multiple EU Directives including the Floods Directive and the Water Framework Directive.

Faz and grandson helping out planting the much needed SuDS at Enfield








Thames21 urges that the new SuDS proposals are amended to address these key issues and calls for Londoners to voice their opinion before the public consultation closes on October 24th by sending an email to:-

For more information please contact Debbie Leach, CEO Thames21  07976 559778.

The consultation is available through the following link: