The Curmudgeon


Sunday, December 12, 2004

News 2020

When it eventually happens, you'll read here that we told you so

Much of London could be under water in a few years, thanks to rising sea levels, neglected Underground tunnels and rotting sewer systems, according to a report by the Department of the Environment.

The recent collapse of the Post Office Tower into the Northern Line tunnel last year, which resulted in over 500 deaths and slightly longer delays than normal, could be merely an advance portent of the future in store, the report implies.

The study blames the large number of high-rise blocks built by previous governments in their efforts to solve the problem of homelessness in the capital. The tall, heavy buildings are placing a vast strain on underground systems designed to cope with the much smaller population of Victorian London.

"London had fewer people in the nineteenth century than it does now," said environment minister Vesta Feeley. "Also, the Victorians were less politically correct about things like hard work and irresponsible diet, so the people who did live here were thinner and less weighty than those who live here now."

The nineteenth-century "live and let live" attitude to homelessness was also a factor in keeping life in the city balanced, she added. "It's only during the last few decades, when all these buildings have been thrown up, made of dense concrete and hefty steel girders, that the problems have arisen," Ms Feeley said.

According to the report, London's sewer system could have coped with either the building works or the rising water, but it will be unable to manage both at once.

"This Government has never shirked from taking unpopular measures when it has been necessary for the good of the country," Ms Feeley told reporters today. "The time is approaching when Londoners may have to moderate their unsustainable demands for transport and accommodation so that the city can continue to function."

Asked whether the report's revelations would affect London's bid to host the Olympics in eight years' time, Ms Feeley said the Government had every confidence in Britain's "world-class infrastructure", which, even in the midst of the present recession, was still robust enough to provide one in ten London households with a fairly functional lavatory.


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