Some £50million could be spent on building a flood barrier, modelled on the Thames flood barrier, to protect Bristol from rising sea levels.
Bristol City Council cabinet member Tim Kent yesterday joined Liberal Democrat mayor candidate Jon Rogers in announcing the plans, which they said would need to be built before 2025.
They said that they had been talking to the Environment Agency for several months on developing plans to protect the city from tidal flooding through the use of a barrier.
The barrier would be built near Avonmouth and, like the Thames Barrier which opened in 1982, would only close when there was a risk of flooding – allowing boats to navigate the river into the city.
They added that if the city does not develop a flood barrier it maybe forced to build flood defence walls all around harbour areas and the Temple Quarter Enterprise zone.
Cllr Kent said: “Flooding is a real threat to tens of thousands of houses here in Bristol so we have been working on plans to improve Bristol’s flood defence with our colleagues in the Environment Agency.
“Recently this has included looking at the option of a flood barrier across the Avon to protect the city from the real threat of flooding through high tides.”
Cllr Rogers added: “Our initial work shows that a flood barrier, operated similar to that of the Thames barrier, could provide nearly total protection for the city from tidal flooding.”
The Thames Barrier is the world’s second-largest movable flood barrier, after the Oosterscheldekering in the Netherlands. Its purpose is to prevent London from being flooded by exceptionally high tides and storm surges moving up from the sea.
The barrier spans 520 metres across the River Thames near Woolwich, and it protects 125 square kilometres of central London from flooding caused by tidal surges.
It became operational in 1982 and has 10 steel gates that can be raised into position across the River Thames. When raised, the main gates stand as high as a five-storey building and as wide as the opening of Tower Bridge. Each main gate weighs 3,300 tonnes.
In the 1980s there were four closures, 35 closures in the 1990s, and 75 closures in the first decade of this century.
Despite global warming and a consequently greater predicted rate of sea level rise, recent analysis extended the working life of the barrier until around 2060–2070.