Could form a real alternative

THE idea that the proposed flood defence panels would be made out of 'aeroplane parts' as suggested by your report last week was simplifying a serious proposal. What was actually said was that aeronautical technology, in particular in the use of composit

THE idea that the proposed flood defence panels would be made out of 'aeroplane parts' as suggested by your report last week was simplifying a serious proposal. What was actually said was that aeronautical technology, in particular in the use of composite materials, could make the panel system work, despite the power of the sea, and it could form a real alternative to a fixed inner sea wall. That we would only have a couple of hours warning as suggested by Rachel Lewis is novel, as usually it is a lot longer, but even so this scheme could cope with that, provided the manpower and backup was available.Each panel, depending on its size, would take only minutes to erect and lock in place. As to the strength required, provided the hinge point was below the surface level and stressed accordingly, the panels would be stronger than steel plate but lighter. We need also to bear in mind that the front sea wall will take most of the initial impact of storm waves although I don't underestimate the force on the secondary wall. Nevertheless the presently proposed scheme has to engineer sufficient strength in the temporary pedestrian corridor barrier panels anyway, so it shows it can be done. The aircraft industry manufactures complete fuselages and wings out of the the same such composites these days and there are a number of firms in the West Country with the expertise eg GKN Group, which also has wave testing facilities, Airbus and EADS, and AgustaWestlands. Just as our Victorian forefathers were not afraid to use the latest technology in their creations that have withstood the elements for 100 years, perhaps this is an opportunity to put the 'Ever Forward' motto for Weston to the test and ask the industry to carry out a trail? Someone has to be first!CLLR ELFAN AP REESVia e-mail


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