WORK has started on a £34m project to improve flood defences at a port on the Thames estuary.
Dual function lock gates at Tilbury in Essex will replace the originals installed in 1928, and a 40-year-old tidal barrier will be removed.
The port’s owners said the joint project with the Environment Agency was of “national importance”.
The work was expected to take 18 months to complete, with the new lock gates planned for installation by early 2022.
Charles Hammond, group chief executive of Forth Ports, owners of Tilbury, said: “This is a vital strategic project for not only the port but to safeguard the local community from any flood threat.
The Environment Agency’s current tidal barrier was installed in 1981 and has already passed its designed maximum number of closures and had a number of required modifications, it said.
Funding for the project has come from Port of Tilbury London Ltd (PoTLL) and the Anglian (Eastern) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.
EA chief executive Sir James Bevan said the port was “vital to our national economy” and the scheme was an “important and exciting project that has both a flood protection and navigational purpose, and will help protect jobs and growth”.
The Port of Tilbury main cargo is forestry products, construction materials, paper, grain, recyclables and warehousing space.