Live updates

London plan to address flooding risk

"Flooding is a very real threat for significant numbers of people in London and London needs a robust and sustainable response to address this now to avoid an even bigger problem in the future.

The plan contains some key measures which, if implemented in a timely way and correctly, will be of real benefit.

The net increase in London's green infrastructure will not only make London a better place to live but will also reduce the amount of rainwater entering the sewer system and hence reduce the risk of flooding."

– Cllr Julian Bell, Chair, London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee

London "at risk of major flooding"

The capital is "at risk of major flooding" unless something is done to support the over-capacity sewer system, according to a new report.

The new research supported by the Major of London, Thames Water, the Environment Agency and London Councils calls for the capital's public spaces to be transformed into green areas which will help absorb surface water after rainfall.

17% of permeable ground has been lost in London over the past 40 years as homeowners chose to cover their previously green lawns with concrete. This means that water which used to be absorbed is now directed towards sewers which are unable to cope with the strain.


Thames Water response

Thames Water has offered the following response to the claims from Hammersmith and Fulham Council:

"The project isexpected to be delivered by a regulated infrastructure provider which will holdits own license issued by Ofwat. The ownership and financing of theinfrastructure provider will be kept separate from Thames Water. Thames Wateris working closely with Government and Ofwat to develop the financing solutionfor the project."

– Thames Water.

Hammersmith Council: Thames Water is 'ripping off' consumers

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has accused Thames Water of ripping off its customers.

They claim that the super sewer isn't necessary - and that the company is being motivated by financial gain, rather than the environment.

“Water industry experts are lining up to say that Thames Water’s case for the super sewer is flawed. The Thames has won awards for its cleanliness but we all agree that it could be cleaner still. The question is how this is delivered and it appears Thames Water’s true motivation for pushing through this massive concrete tunnel has more to do with financial gain than cleanliness.”

– Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Hammersmith and Fulham Council Leader

The council argues that there are alternative solutions to the capital's sewage overflow problems - new drainage systems, for example, that could minimise the amount of fresh rain water entering the sewerage system.

They also claim that Thames Water stands to make "colossal returns at bill payers' expense".


Pictures: how the super sewer will reduce pollution


At the moment, our sewers fill up when it rains - and untreated waste water spills out into the River Thames.

This diagram shows how waste water currently overflows into the River Thames. Credit: Thames Water.


The new "super sewer" would divert the waste water away from the river.

When the super sewer is built, the sewage will be diverted away from the river. Credit: Thames Water.

Why do Thames Water want a new super sewer?

When it rains in London, our old Victorian sewers fill up.

If the excess water isn't discharged somewhere, the sewage could back up into homes and streets. So, instead, it's released into the River Thames through "combined sewer overflows".

Thames Water says that, in a typical year, 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage flushes into the river. And - as the population of London increases - this problem is set to get worse.

So, they want to build a massive new sewer to increase the capacity of the system - and help clean up the River Thames.

Watch Thames Water's video below for more information.

What is the Thames Tideway Tunnel?

The Thames Tideway Tunnel will be a new "super sewer", the width of three London buses, which will run underground from west to east London.

It will be around 20 miles long - and will broadly follow the route of the River Thames, connecting up to 34 sewer overflows.

Sewage, which would otherwise spill into the River Thames, will then be captured in the new tunnel and transferred to a waste water plant in Beckton to be treated.

Load more updates