Ipswich tidal barrier ready to protect town from threat of flooding

Work is well underway on the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Work is well underway on the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The multi-million pound project to protect Ipswich Waterfront and town centre from the threat of tidal and storm surges has passed a crucial milestone.

And the chief executive of the Environment Agency has visited the project to see progress on preparing the barrier which is due to become fully operational during the second half of 2018.

The centrepiece of the project is the new 200-tonne tidal gate that arrived in Ipswich from the Netherlands last month and is currently being fixed into place.

Work is well underway on the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Work is well underway on the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

It will work on the same principal as the Thames Barrier in east London which rises if there is a danger of the river flooding the capital.

The Ipswich barrier, linked to new river defences around the Waterfront, should offer protection to 2,000 properties – both homes and businesses.

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency onsite at the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Pic

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency onsite at the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

As well as protecting them from the danger of flooding, it should bring down insurance premiums and should also make the area more attractive for developers.

Environment Agency Chief Executive Sir James Bevan visited the site on Friday to see the progress with the installation of the barrier.

Work is well underway on the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Work is well underway on the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

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He was joined by representatives of partners in the scheme – Ipswich and Suffolk councils and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Sir James said: “It’s been fantastic to visit the Ipswich tidal barrier gate and see this incredible feat of engineering. The £70m barrier will not only help reduce the threat of flooding for 2,000 homes and businesses, but also be a boost for the area’s economy.”

Work is well underway on the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Work is well underway on the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The barrier, which is 22 metres wide and nine metres high when closed, is due to be fully commissioned next October.

Sir James said: “This should be the last winter that we have to face the threat of tidal or storm surges in Ipswich.”

Work is well underway on the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Work is well underway on the Ipswich Tidal Barrier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

It should protect the town against the threat of everything other than a once in 300-years weather event – an important concern when there is the rising threat of global warming.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere was delighted to see the barrier in place – and was looking forward to it becoming operational.

He said: “This very important for the growth of Ipswich. I am pleased to see this now finally reaching its conclusion. We have been working on this project for many years.”