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River gates worsened Glastonbury flood


GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL organisers had to rip out a security gate across a river running through the site last week to ease flooding caused by intense rainfall.

Steel mesh gates had been installed across the river Whitelake to stop gatecrashers getting into the festival last weekend.

'People used to get in by walking along the river, so we fitted two portcullises under one of the bridges near the perimeter fence, ' said Glastonbury infrastructure manager Bob St Barbe.

The 6m long by 3m high steel mesh gates were welded to brackets on the underside of Oaks Bridge (see map) and had 150mm square openings.

'But it still managed to keep the water back because of all the debris building up, ' said St Barbe.

When the rain stopped, chains attached to an excavator were used to rip the gates out. Pumps then lowered the water level.

Over 100mm of rain fell in four hours at Glastonbury on Friday morning causing the river to burst its banks.

Naturally boggy grazing land south of a disused railway track which crosses the site turned into a mud bath as the embankment trapped rain running off sloping grazing land.

Flood waters rose to over 2.5m in the worst hit areas submerging over 200 tents plus temporary toilet blocks.

Before the festival returns to Glastonbury in 2007, St Barbe hopes to install sliding steel gates beneath Oaks Bridge and build a pedestrian underpass through the railway embankment to allow water to drain away.

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