Lock gates removed and repaired

ENGINEERS have overseen the removal of the two massive lock gates which defend Ipswich from the possibility of major flooding.

ENGINEERS have overseen the removal of the two massive lock gates which defend Ipswich from the possibility of major flooding.

But the gates - which each weigh 35 tons - will be back in place today following further investigative work on proposals to improve flood protection in the Ipswich Wet Dock area.

The Environment Agency has commissioned construction of new lock gates which are to be built in Holland, where engineers have enormous expertise in dealing with keeping low-lying areas safe.

This week an 800-tonne crane gently removed the old gates, lifting them clear of the lock so civil engineers from the Environment Agency and Jackson Civil Engineering could inspect the silt bed.

This was to enable them to specify the exact requirements for the replacement gates.

Agency project manager Andrew Usborne said the steel gates were 20 to 30-years-old but needed to be replaced because they are cracked.

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“They were damaged some time ago when they were slammed shut during a very strong tide, so we have always known they needed to be replaced,” he said.

“Now we are working on a strategy for the protection of Ipswich from flooding and so this has given us an opportunity to put in new gates, which will be the first stage in that work.

“The new gates will be taller and designed so they can be extended in future, giving them a longer life and always ensuring they will be high enough.”

Some work in connection with the fittings for the new gates will be carried out between now and June.

They will remain in use while the new gates are tailor-made in Holland and transported by barge across the North Sea ready for fitting later this year.

Mr Usborne said it was not known exactly when the new gates would be fitted, but it was hoped this would be in November if the weather conditions were favourable.

“We have to analyse the weather carefully to make sure there is likely to be no surge tide or flood conditions before the work takes place as these gates defend Ipswich from flooding and we could not remove them if there is a risk,” he said.

“We would hope to do the work in November but if that is not possible there would be other slots before this time next year when the busy season in the dock starts.”

Are you worried about flooding from the Orwell? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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