Environment Agency staff and contractors are currently engaged in a race against the tide as they work in a brief, three-month window this summer to progress a £10M overhaul of Hull’s 28 year old barrier.
Hull’s geography makes it particularly vulnerable to climate change and the threat of rising sea levels.
Almost the entire city is at risk of flooding from the sea, but it also has a special defence - the Hull Tidal Barrier, one of Yorkshire’s, and the country’s, key flood defence structures.
The barrier, one of only a handful of its kind in the country, protects some 17,000 properties by preventing tidal surges from funnelling water into the River Hull.
The Hull Tidal Barrier has towered over Hull’s waterfront for almost three decades and the current £10 million maintenance scheme is the largest ever tackled in that time.
The structure’s gate can be deployed within 30 minutes of a flood warning and the ongoing major overhaul aims to keep it in good working order for another 30 years.
The barrier is called into use about 12 times a year and has protected Hull from the effects of 33 severe tidal surges since its completion in 1980.
Environment Agency staff and contractors are currently engaged in a race against the tide as they work in a brief, three-month window this summer to progress the overhaul.
Work will be completed during the same three-month period next year. Summer is the most suitable time to tackle such major work as there is less likelihood of tidal surges.
So far this year, contractors have been checking over the steelwork of the massive 212-tonne gate in the barrier. They also have re-repainted the gate, which lifts and pivots like an up-and-over domestic garage door, to protect the steel from corrosion.
“Work has been progressing well,” said project manager Andrew Newton.
“Looking after the Hull Tidal Barrier is a 365-days-a-year job but this current overhaul is the most extensive since it was built and will be completed by autumn next year.
“With rising sea levels predicted in the future and the threat from climate change making extreme weather more likely, the barrier’s role in protecting thousands of properties will become even more vital.”
Next summer will see the replacement of the drive mechanism, which lifts and lowers the gate.
A planning application has been submitted for a new building at the base of the barrier’s towers, to accommodate some of the barrier’s new control equipment.