Lock gate replacement

A scheme to improve Tilbury’s flood defences with new flood lock gates has started, with Environment Agency contractors starting construction work.

The existing port lock gates, installed in 1928, will be replaced with dual function lock gates. The Environment Agency’s tidal barrier, built in 1981, will be removed.

This £34m project is a joint endeavour between the Environment Agency and the Port of Tilbury that is designed to protect thousands of nearby homes and businesses from flooding. They are jointly funding it but the port company will take responsibility for operation and maintenance of the new dual function structure.

Work started in January 2021 and is expected to last for 18 months, with the new lock gates planned for installation in late 2021 or early 2022.

The work is being done by the Environment Agency’s Thames Estuary Management 2100 (TEAM2100) initiative, a partnership with Balfour Beatty and Jacobs.

Port of Tilbury’s asset & site director, Paul Dale, said: “This is a very important project and an impressive engineering solution that will provide flood defences for homes and businesses in the area for decades to come while ensuring the smooth marine operations at the Port of Tilbury”.

The current Tilbury Barrier was installed in 1981 and has already passed its designed maximum number of closures and had a number of required modifications. The Port of Tilbury London Limited )PoTLL), in planning the replacement of two sets of lock gates, was keen to partner with the Environment Agency and install an outer set of gates that can act in both an impoundment function and flood defence function.

The site area falls within the Thames Estuary 2100 strategy, which was approved by the Environment Agency board in 2010 and by the Treasury in 2012. The strategy sets out recommendations for managing tidal flood risk across the estuary until the end of the century and beyond. In January 1953, more than 2,500 properties flooded in Tilbury in a tidal surge that claimed 307 lives.