Only a catastrophe will make the UK gets its flood defences right, the man in charge of redeveloping the Thames Gateway has warned.
Eric Sorensen, chief executive of Thames Gateway Partnership, said: 'There will be at some stage a massive catastrophic event that will finally goad us into doing something.
Sorensen, speaking at the annual conference of the RIBA London region yesterday (21 November). said: 'As of now there is no plan. The veil is lifted when you look at the discussion in the aftermath of floods this year and in previous years.'
He advised that 'everybody should get a boat'.
Also speaking at the conference, which took as its subject 'Shaping the future of the Thames,' was Rachael Hill, technical strategy manager for Thames Estuary 2100, the Environment Agency project tasked with developing a flood risk management plan for London and the Thames Estuary.
Hill said the Thames Barrier will have a longer design life than already anticipated. Without it, she said, river walls in London would have to be 3m higher.
Hill warned that in the future, with sea levels expected to rise between 1m and 4m by 2100, we will have to plan places that can store floodwater in the short term. 'We will not be able to keep everything dry all the time,' she said. 'Things can only get wetter'.