Leading Kent Greens Hazel and Steve Dawe(1) went on a fact-finding trip to the Thames Barrier this week (24th July). Kent has been very lucky in recent weeks to have avoided extreme rainfall. But coastal and flood protection in Kent does not boast any equivalent to the Thames Flood barrier to protect against more frequent extreme weather events. These are strongly associated with global warming by specialists (2).
Steve Dawe comments: “Government policy is contradictory. They have protected a large area of London, and about 1.25 million people, with the Thames Barrier. This permits home building over a huge area. Similarly, in the Kent section of the Thames Gateway, flood and coastal protection is must be enhanced if more homes are to be built. However, elsewhere in Kent, the Government’s policy includes managed retreat of the coastline (Romney Marsh and Dungeness) and no major plans to reinforce existing flood protection in areas which were severely flooded in 2000 (Ashford, Canterbury). There is also the question of what protection the river Medway may need against future storm surges.
“Baroness Young, head of the Environment Agency, has stated current spending on flood protection needs to rise from £600 million a year to £1 billion. If Kent is to have even more homes(3), then it will inevitably need more flood protection and coastal protection measures. Kent Green Party concludes it would be far cheaper to build more homes on brownfield sites in northern cities not prone to flooding or coastal erosion.”
1. Dr Hazel Dawe is Chair, Kent Green Party and Steve Dawe is Press Officer, Kent Green Party.
2. See for example: John Houghton Global Warming: the complete briefing 3rd edition, 2004; Tim Flannery The Weather Makers: the history and future impact of climate change, 2005.
3. According to the latest Government White Paper on Housing: Homes for the future, more affordable, more sustainable (HMSO, July 2007).