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Calls to improve Thames flood barrier

The Government was today urged to speed up capital flood barrier improvements, following the New Orleans disaster.
Shadow environment secretary Oliver Letwin wrote to Defra Secretary Margaret Beckett asking her to accelerate work on the Thames Barrier and to evelop with other Whitehall departments a full flood response plan for London.

Mr Letwin said that last year the Government's scientific adviser, Sir David King put London into the same risk category as New York and New Orleans.

Mr Letwin said: 'Given that the Thames Barrier is already being used six times a year, not once every three to five years as planned, the Government cannot afford to be complacent about the fact that 500,000 properties, 38 Underground and DLR stations and City Airport are vulnerable to flooding.

'I am calling on Margaret Beckett to speed up the Environment Agency report into flooding in the Thames, presently not due until 2008 and to work with other departments to develop the necessary contingency plans to ensure the safety of Londoners.

'Extending the inquiry could also fruitfully look at any other particular exposures elsewhere in the country that need to be considered at this stage.'