The Thames Barrier has closed for the record-breaking 50th time this winter marking a milestone during the recent “extraordinary” weather it has faced.
This season has been the wettest on record, with the south east receiving more than double the amount of rainfall expected in a normal winter.
Since the Thames Barrier became operational around years ago, more than 25 per cent of all flood defence closures have taken place in the past three months.
The barrier was closed for flood defence on 4 occasions in the 1980s, and has become gradually more busy since then.
Last night (MARCH 4) the barrier closed for the 50th time this winter.
Operations manager at the Thames Barrier Andy Batchelor said: “Along with the rest of the country, London and the communities alongside the River Thames have faced an extraordinary combination of weather conditions over the past few months.
“Due to unprecedented weather this has seen a blip in our 32-year history of 50 closures during a flood season, smashing several of the previous records for the Thames Barrier.
“The long term plan for the Barrier recognises that we will use it on average more frequently year by year and we are still forecasting not to need a replacement until 2070.
“I’m pleased to say the Barrier and its associated defences have stood up well to a significant series of tests, and is consistently performing to a very high standard to protect those communities who are at risk of flooding.”
The Environment Agency is not expecting the barrier to close again over the forthcoming tides, but will continue to monitor river and tide levels closely.