Act now to stop “disaster movie” flooding, warns top business boss

One of Britain’s most senior businessmen has called on the government to create a national flood plan to stop London resembling a “disaster movie”.

Sir Ian Cheshire, chief executive of DIY company Kingfisher, which owns B&Q, has said responsibilities for water management are currently scattered among too many national and local government departments.

Cheshire, who studied the effect of climate change in a government taskforce last year, said he was shocked that the risk to London from a storm surge or a breaching of the Thames Barrier was so large it posed a threat of a “disaster of epic proportions” and yet hadn’t been recognised.

He told the media: “If the Thames barrier is breached or fails for some reason, then the topography of London creates a massive problem because a lot of it is low-lying in the centre. If you combine that with the opportunity for water to get in the underground, as it did in New York, you’ve got a huge swathe of central London being knocked out.

“This is sort of sci-fi disaster movie territory… It would be foolish to say there’s a 50% probability this will happen in the next two years but I think when you start seeing 300-year events coming up more frequently, we start to worry about the level of adaptation that we’ve already got.”

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