Worlds End Pumping Station project - information page

Closes 31 Mar 2025

Opened 7 Jun 2021

Overview

The Worlds End Pumping Station project will ensure that the existing level of flood risk protection to over 140 homes in the eastern half of Tilbury is maintained into the future.

Background

The Tilbury area adjacent to the Thames estuary was once intertidal and has been reclaimed and is more-or-less flat. In times of heavy or prolonged rainfall, this does not allow for water to drain efficiently by gravity alone.

There are two drainage catchments serving Tilbury (due to a very slight north-south ridge roughly running along the A126 & Feenan Highway). The eastern catchment that covers the eastern half of Tilbury town is served by Worlds End Pumping Station. The station lets water flow into the Thames estuary via gravity at low-water. At high-tide it will pump water through the tidal defence into the estuary if water continues to arrive from the eastern half of the town. This means there is an absolute dependency upon the Worlds End Pumping Station to allow the day-to-day functioning of the catchment’s drainage network.

Worlds End Pumping Station was built and commissioned by 1963 following a severe rain storm in 1958. 76mm of rain fell over a two-hour period which led to 500 houses flooding in Tilbury.

Map showing the location of Worlds End Pumping Station south of Tilbury

Map showing the location of Worlds End Pumping Station

Image showing the Worlds End Pumping Station compound

Image: the existing Worlds End Pumping Station compound

A further rainstorm event in September 1968 saw 40mm of rain in 24 hours followed by 150mm over a further 24 hours. 800 houses and over 120 hectares of marsh were flooded, leading to the construction of the Tilbury Flood Storage Area to the north of the town in the mid-1970s and an increase to the pumping capacity of Worlds End Pumping Station.

Why are we doing this work?

The existing pumping station was last refurbished in 2002 and is now approaching the end of its serviceable life.

Following the completion of Thurrock Council’s report investigating flooding within Tilbury town in 2013 we supported the Council and Anglian Water to develop a study of current and future flood risks within Tilbury. This study considered the impacts that a complete failure of Worlds End Pumping Station would have on Tilbury given its critical nature in allowing water draining from the town to reach the Thames estuary. The work highlighted the need for an operationally-resilient pumping station that can cope with increasing future rainfall totals and higher water levels in the estuary – both attributed to climate change. This resilience is key as failure of the asset would increase flood risk to over 140 additional properties in the eastern half of Tilbury.

We’ve developed the project’s design in consultation with Thurrock Council as Lead Local Flood Authority, as well as Anglian Water who regulate and maintain the surface water sewerage network within Tilbury town that is served by Worlds End Pumping Station. We’ve developed a proposal of over £20million that will provide this resilience now and into the future.

What does the work involve?

The works are planned to be delivered as part of the Thames Estuary Asset Management (TEAM) 2100 Programme.

The proposed project includes constructing several different structures and mechanical and electrical components. Some of the structures will be visible above ground such as a new control building on the landward side of the existing tidal defence (as shown below) and a new outfall structure for pumped water to enter the Thames estuary on the seaward side of the tidal defences.

Image showing the design for the new control building

Image: the design for the new control building
 

3D visualisation of the new pumping station compound

Image: visualisation for the new compound area

The project has to meet modern operational requirements and design codes which means the visible above-ground structures will occupy a larger compound area compared to the current arrangement on-site.

Other aspects of the works that will be hidden underground once complete include a new inlet structure to take water from the existing river channel to the new pumps, as well as pipes that will run from the new pumps under Fort Road and the tidal defence to the new outfall structure on the foreshore muds.

To ensure that the proposed project is compliant with the Eels (England and Wales) Regulations 2009 we‘ll install a ‘fish friendly’ pumping system. Other ecological enhancements include a biodiverse roof to the new control building as well as other low-cost improvement opportunities around the site.

We will also ensure that saltmarsh will be created locally to the project to replace any existing saltmarsh that may be impacted by constructing the new outfall structure.

What have we been doing on-site?

Over the past three years we have completed a series of ground investigation activities on land behind the tidal defences where the proposed pumping station is to be located. We have also carried out similar activities on the foreshore muds in front of the tidal defences where the proposed outfall structure is to be located. This has given us a detailed understanding of how much load the ground can bear and heights of local ground waters, linked to the tides. This helps our design work as building a new pumping station on land once reclaimed from the estuary is a very challenging exercise.

We will be returning to site later this summer to complete further surveys of the existing structure.

When will work start?

Given the sensitive nature of the site within the sight lines of Tilbury Fort, we have been working closely with Historic England, English Heritage and other key stakeholders to minimise the visual impact of the new above-ground structures. We are also working closely with the Port of Tilbury and English Heritage as key landowners impacted by the proposed scheme.

Once the design of the above-ground structures have been agreed, we will submit a planning application to Thurrock Council in summer 2021 for their consideration and approval following their formal process.

Once planning permission and other necessary licenses and consents are received, we are likely to start constructing the new pumping station in autumn/winter 2022 and be completed in autumn 2024. During the construction phase, water draining from Tilbury town will still be able to reach the Thames estuary at the current rate, meaning the existing level of flood protection to homes will be maintained.

How can I find out more and get involved?

We are now planning the best way for us to share more details with you to give you as much information as possible around how the scheme will look as well as how and when it will be constructed. We’re keen to seek your feedback on how the project will be delivered and to hear from you about any local constraints we are not currently aware of as soon as possible ahead of submitting the planning application.

We hope to hold face to face ‘drop-in’ sessions in the future when feasible, in line with the government guidelines. In the coming weeks we’ll add ‘information boards’ to this web page, and also add a feedback section to this web page, and provide offline options for you to share your views. During the planning process details of the scheme will be available to for you to view and comment on the council website.

We’ll keep you updated on the project via Twitter (@TE2100Plan and @EnvAgencyAnglia) and written means.

Please check this web page regularly to check for updates, as well as our Twitter accounts for further information on the project and planned engagement events. In the meantime you can contact us at Team2100@jacobs.com

Audiences

  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Members of the public with an interest in the river, the species and conservation
  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Academics
  • Environment Agency customers
  • Environment Agency colleagues
  • Lead Local Flood Authorities
  • Local Risk Management Authorities
  • Flood Resilience Forums

Interests

  • Flood management
  • Habitats and wildlife