Hinged panels could provide sea flood wall

PUBLISHED: 05:01 28 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:56 24 May 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL flood defence wall should be made from hinged aeroplane panels so it will not ruin the sea view, a senior councillor says. North Somerset Council's preferred plans would see a 1-1.5m 'splash wall' built between Knightstone Island and the W

A CONTROVERSIAL flood defence wall should be made from hinged aeroplane panels so it will not ruin the sea view, a senior councillor says.North Somerset Council's preferred plans would see a 1-1.5m 'splash wall' built between Knightstone Island and the Winter Gardens.But traders benefiting from views of Weston Bay say the wall, which would be built on the promenade next to the road, would separate them from visitors.Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, who is chairman of trustees for The Helicopter Museum, came up with a hinged alternative following talks with the aerospace industry.He said: "The current plan uses panels to close off pedestrian accesses. My proposal would simply extend that principle along the full length of the barrier."Each panel would be several metres long and hinged at the back in the same way as a wing flap, so it can be raised and interlocked to provide an effective barrier."Experiments suggest that two or three men could quickly and easily hinge a panel up to 6m long without any assistance."Whatever design is agreed for the new defences, they are going to be with us for a long time and it is important we don't just accept the easiest solution, but the one that will do the job and is the most aesthetic."North Somerset's flooding expert Rachel Lewis said: "The idea put forward by Cllr Ap Rees is an interesting one and not without its merit. "Our specialist engineers, Royal Haskoning, did examine the potential for such a solution during the early stages of the feasibility study. "There is no proven technology of this sort for use in coastal locations although such solutions are being employed in riverside locations such as at Bewdley on the Severn. "In river flooding situations, the authorities have a long period to put the defences up. I believe at Bewdley it takes something like six hours to get the defences in position, whereas Weston could have just a couple of hours warning if a storm blows up. "Coastal locations are also faced with severe wave forces which any such barrier would be required to withstand."The Environment Agency would need to be totally convinced that any such proposal was tried and tested before it would give its approval.

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