Barriers at the ready in ‘Broadchurch’

25th September 2017

A Dorset seaside resort made famous by the television drama Broadchurch will be the location of an Environment Agency training exercise this week (Tuesday 26 September 2017).


Visitors to West Bay, near Bridport, will see up to 60 metres of temporary coastal defence barriers deployed in East Beach car park in preparation for any future tidal incidents.


The barriers – one of 4 types used by the Environment Agency – are large, self-supporting, recyclable containers filled with aggregate. They are covered with an impenetrable membrane which prevents water from getting through. They are also fitted with a lid to prevent loss of fill material during over-topping and extreme weather conditions.


Exercise organiser and engineer Dan Hooper said:


West Bay is a high risk flood area because of strong south westerly winds, high tides and the close proximity of properties to the sea and nearby River Brit, so it’s essential we are ‘incident-ready’ by carrying out exercises like this.


These barriers are relatively new to the Environment Agency so this exercise provides us with an opportunity to get to grips with them. We are learning how we open, connect and fill them using a stockpile of beach materials already located on site.


Sharpening our practical skills and knowledge means we can better protect homes, businesses and the environment quickly and safely should a major incident be expected in West Bay or anywhere along the Dorset coast.


Partner agencies have been invited to observe the exercise, including representatives from the British Army, Dorset Local Resilience Forum (local authorities, Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, Dorset Police, Civil Contingencies Unit) and the West Bay Harbourmaster.


One of the Environment Agency’s new Incident Command Units (ICU) will also be on site recording footage of the exercise. The WiFi-enabled ICU acts as a mobile incident room and a temporary headquarters for staff out in the field, enabling better site management, situational awareness and visibility in flood risk communities.

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