The Thames Barrier will be closed for the first time this winter to protect London from the risk of flooding.

Flows on the River Thames have increased in the last week because of the heavy rain. 

These high flows have coincided with spring tides, the highest in the tidal cycle, so the Environment Agency will close the Thames Barrier at 11.30am to reduce flooding risk in London and the Thames catchment.

Steve East, engineering manager at the Thames Barrier said: "We are closing the Barrier to protect London from the threat of flooding due to the high level of rain last week combined with high tides from the sea.

"We are urging people to check their flood risk, prepare for flooding, follow the advice from emergency services and never risk driving through flood water."

The Thames Barrier is one of the largest moveable flood barriers in the world, protecting 125 sqkm of central London and 1.25m people. 

Each gate takes 10 to 15 minutes to close, so the barrier takes 90 mins in total to close.

Flood preparation advice can be found at or by calling 0345 9881188.