REUSE OF scrap tyres in flood defences is being investigated in a government-funded study by consultant HR Wallingford.
The Environment Agency and the Department of Trade and Industry are jointly funding the £311,000 three-year contract.
HR Wallingford project leader and technical director Jonathon Simm said the Agency and DTI were keen to find ways of reusing tyres.
A European directive is due to ban dumping of whole tyres by 2003, and shredded tyres or 'tyre crumb' by 2006.
'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, work as fill for walls and embankments that are then covered with a concrete shell.
It will initially carry out physical modelling tests, but hopes to build a prototype defence for monitoring by the end of the year.
Simm added that he hoped the tyres would be superior to granular fills because they could be stacked steeply and would not be washed away during construction. But he said they would have to be checked for potential leachate.