'Mess, loss, damage': Review of London flash floods begins

Flooding looking onto Park Road

Flooding looking onto Park Road - Credit: Claire Sparkles

An independent review, seeking to examine the “extent and causes” of the flash floods in the capital this July, has begun.   

The London Flood Review, commissioned by Thames Water and launched on Tuesday, will “assess how the drainage systems performed” and “recommend how the increasing risks of future flooding events can be managed”.  

It follows criticism from some residents and local groups over how Thames Water responded to the extreme weather event on July 12. 

A group of independent experts will conduct the review, with water strategist Mike Woolgar chairing the panel.  

He said: "The extreme flooding London experienced this past summer is likely indicative of events we may see more of under climate change.” 

"Flooding like this is frightening for those affected and the mess, losses and damages for so many people underlines just how important this review is”, he added.  

The flash floods ravaged areas across north London, halting public transport and damaging businesses and homes including in South Hampstead, Maida Vale and South End Green.   

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Maida Vale councillor Geoff Barraclough said: “The floods of July 12 devastated hundreds of basement flats and impacted thousands of peoples’ lives.  

“Six months later, residents are only now getting back into their homes and returning to normality.” 

Residents and councils have welcomed the launch of the review. Joan Munro, of the South Hampstead Flood Action Group, said: “I'm quite impressed with the quality of the people that they’ve put on the review and the fact they’ve made it independent.” 

In September, the group launched its own survey into areas affected by the flooding, as Thames Water had not yet launched its review.   

Flooding hits South End Green for the second time in a fortnight on Sunday July 25

Flooding hits South End Green for the second time in a fortnight on Sunday July 25 - Credit: Wasel Ali

Haringey was another London borough hit badly by the floods, including in Muswell Hill.

A spokesperson for Haringey Council said: “With the reality of climate change increasing the possibility of these events happening in the future, we look forward to seeing how the findings… can help further strengthen our resilience against the risk of flooding in Haringey.”

The review will be assisted by a panel including representatives from Transport for London, London Councils, the Environment Agency and Thames Water.  

The investigation comes as some climate experts predict flooding due to climate change could leave parts of London underwater by 2050.   

Separate to the London Flood Review, Camden Council has launched its own flood investigation report. Westminster Council said it is working with Thames Water “to make sure this never happens again”.