The City of London has opened a consultation on plans to raise the height of the riverside embankment along the Thames to protect the City from sea level rises caused by Climate Change.
As we all know, the earth is warming, and while people can quibble over the reasons, there’s no denying that the planet is warmer today than it used to be in the past. One of the many side effects of a warmer climate is that sea levels rise, not just because melting ice from the Antarctic and Greenland will add to the volume of water, but because like all things, water expands as it gets warmer.
Hence sea levels will rise, and that has implications for all areas connected to the sea — such as London via the River Thames. Although the Thames Barrier can hold back high tides, to hold back a perpetually higher tide would be unsustainable, so river embankments need to be raised as well.
Within the City area, to meet the expected sea level in 2100, they will need to increase the embankment by up to a metre in places, although some sections are ready at the required height.
The City of London is looking at how it can achieve this, mainly by outlining a planning policy that will affect all future riverside developments, leaving the City government to fill in road gaps, such as along the Victoria Embankment.
What they are consulting on is how they can not just raise the height of the embankment, but also do so in a way that makes the embankment more appealing to people to walk along. After all, if all you want to do is raise the wall along the riverside by a metre, that’s comparatively easy to achieve, but does rather spoil the view.
The plan covers a timeframe for smaller upgrades along the riverside due to property developments until 2035, with major interventions along the rest of the river expected between 2035 and 2060, and the whole riverside embankment completed by 2065 — ahead of current projections for sea-level rise.
Ideally, humanity will find a way of slowing climate change, or maybe even stopping it, so that the River Thames never reaches such heights. And if so, the money spent on raising the embankment is not wasted as future Londoners still end up with a much more pleasant embankment to walk along.