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FLOOD DEFENCE officials are investigating whether they can use worn out tyres to shore up river banks, it emerged this week.

The Environment Agency and the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) are jointly funding a study by consultant HR Wallingford into the use of tyres in flood defences under a three year £311,000 contract.

HR Wallingford project leader and technical director Jonathon Simm said the Agency and DTI are keen to find ways of re-using tyres. A European directive is due to ban dumping of whole tyres by 2003, and shredded tyres or 'tyre crumb' by 2006.

'Currently about 40M tyres are scrapped in the UK each year, and 10M end up in landfill, ' said Simm, HR Wallingford hopes to investigate how well the tyres, pressed together in bales (see above), work as fill for walls and embankments covered with a concrete shell.

It will initially carry out physical modelling tests, but hopes to build a prototype defence this year.

Simm added that he hoped the tyres will be superior to granular fills because they can be stacked steeply and will not be washed away during construction.

But he said they would have to be checked for potential leachate.

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