Letter: Thames tamed

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The Independent Culture

Thames tamed

Sir: Having read with interest your article about development on the Isle of Dogs ("Back from the dogs", 24 July), I am tempted to point out that none of this development - including Canary Wharf - would have been viable without the protection offered by the Thames Barrier. Before the barrier was built, the Isle of Dogs was very much in a flood risk area with the possibility of floods 8-9ft deep if the existing Thames bank had been overlapped.

As one of the officials involved in the construction of the barrier, I recall the efforts that were made at the planning stage to calculate whether the benefits - in terms of damage avoidance - could justify the cost (eventually pounds 500m). Nobody dreamt of adding into the equation the future value of development that would be possible when the flood risk area was protected.

It now transpires that the cost of the barrier could have been justified on these grounds alone. If only the Treasury could have foreseen the future, they could have recouped the cost of construction by levying a "betterment" tax on all developments within the protected areas.


Petworth, West Sussex