The development of flood warning and response systems is one of the most important pillars of the UK's investments against natural disasters. The area is exposed to heavy rains that result in flooding that incurs heavy losses to the government annually. Therefore, In a proactive plan, the UK is investing £5.2 billion in flood preparedness over the next 6 years. It involves replacing the old gates of the port of Tilbury with double gates with an innovative design to protect the town, its inhabitants and its economic activity.
Cities with frequent natural disasters allocate a large share of their budgets to addressing these disasters and mitigating their effects on population and infrastructure. In London, The local government needs to take several measures to enhance the city's preparedness for heavy rains that often lead to flooding and rising river levels. Among these measures, Develop warning systems, evacuation plans, build dams and direct water using modern technologies.
In the vicinity of London in particular, The UK's Environment Agency is focusing on the port of Tilbury, located on the banks of the Thames, about 40 kilometres from the centre of the capital. The city of Tilbury is exposed to frequent flooding, The most severe was in 1953, which killed 307 people and damaged thousands of homes. Within this government orientation, A project of national significance has been launched, It aims to improve the readiness of the city of "Tilbury" against floods by equipping the city's port with gates with an innovative design that traps the river's water when it rises. This project complements national efforts in the context of strengthening flood defences, The Environment Agency has developed a new flood response strategy. It aims to enable the country to withstand floods and natural water and coastal disasters now and in the future until the year 2100.
In a step towards consolidating the efforts of local authorities, The Environment Agency cooperated with the Tilbury Port Administration to implement the project. The Environment Agency's Thames estuary resource management programme was selected. Which is planned to last for 10 years. As for the involvement of the private sector, The program team was tasked with carrying out the work in partnership with a number of local contracting companies and Hollandia Infra, a company specialized in the design and construction of large water constructions.
The project is based on providing an innovative and guaranteed engineering solution for decades to come, It is the installation of dual-function valve gates in the port of Tilbury instead of the existing gates. Hollandia Infra will provide a set of 6 guided steel gates, With its axes prepared to cope with floods and precipitation. Each gate is about 15 meters high and 19 meters wide, roughly equivalent to the height of three double-decker buses and the length of a cricket stadium wide. These portals will be distributed into 3 binaries, The construction team lifts the external gates from them and connects them to adjacent flood firewalls so that they perform a dual function of managing navigation and flood risks. The external gates are able to counteract rising water during floods by trapping water from the Thames River if levels rise too high.
In January 2021, Construction has begun on a £34m scheme. After obtaining funding from the Eastern Regional Flood and Coastal Commission (RFCC). This scheme extends over a period of one and a half years, The new gates will be installed between late 2021 and early 2022. Port management will be responsible for the operation and management of the new dual-functional structure.
The Environment Agency's interest in the port of Tilbury is due to its location and economic importance. It is the largest mixed-use port in the southeast of the country, Given its strategic location in relation to the capital London, The port sees an annual movement of goods worth around £8.7 billion. That is, it plays an important role in the national economy. But this role is affected by floods that put thousands of goods and residential properties at risk. Thus, This requires the existence of an impervious protection system capable of maintaining the conduct of navigational operations. Furthermore, The implementation of such a complex project requires extensive planning, complex design solutions and close cooperation between all those responsible for planning and implementation. On the economic front, The project is expected to contribute to improving the operations of the busy port and making it smoother and more flexible, Thanks to the new navigational valves.
At the civil level, Today, the government seeks to better protect 300,000 homes by March 2021. This is part of its national strategies to make the country more prepared for natural disasters.
The project is still in its early stages, It will be evaluated by the implementing agencies based on the challenges it will face and the effects it will achieve, The implementing authorities aspire that the project – when completed – will ensure the town a high level of protection from floods. The port, the local community and business owners will also be spared its impact.