UK – Ipswich Tidal Flood Barrier Officially Opened

The Environment Agency’s new tidal flood defence barrier for Ipswich has been officially opened by Floods Minister, Dr Thérèse Coffey, ensuring more than 1,600 homes and 400 businesses are better protected from flooding and the impacts of climate change over the course of the next century.

Ipswich flood barrier. Photo: Environment Agency

Costing almost £70 million, the new flood defences centrepiece is a 200-tonne rotating barrier which can be raised in minutes, helping to keep the town safe from tidal surges during storms.

The flood defence scheme, which will reduce the risk of flooding to 1,608 homes and 422 businesses as well as key infrastructure, has been partnership funded by the Environment Agency (£54.6 million), Ipswich Borough Council through the Haven Gateway Partnership (£3.4 million) and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (£6.6 million), the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (£1.7 million) and UK Power Networks (£1.1 million).

The flood gate has a design similar to that of the Thames Barrier and is so large that it is coated with 6 tonnes of protective paint. The flood gate rotates upwards out of the sea floor into the closed position, holding back dangerous tidal surges that could flood the town. The defence also includes 1,100 metres of new and refurbished flood walls and a series of flood gates on the banks of the River Orwell.

Now finished, the scheme will better protect homes and businesses in Ipswich over the next 100 years from the increased flood risks associated with climate change. The new defences will provide a much higher level of protection from the type of tidal surge which threatened the town in 2007 and 2013, both of which were close to spilling over the existing defences.

The government’s most recent climate change projections predict that sea levels could rise by up to 1.15 metres, increasing the risk of tidal surges affecting those living on the coast. This project will see Ipswich better protected not only for today’s flood risk but also for that faced by generations to come. Aside from the reduced flood risk benefits, Ipswich’s new flood defence scheme has the added advantage of helping to boost the local economy through freeing up hectares of land for regeneration.

Today, Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, Floods Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and neighbouring MP for Suffolk Coastal, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of the barrier at the eye-catching new control building on the waterfront.

Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey said, “This important new flood scheme, which has received nearly £55 million of government funding, over 80% of the total cost, will better protect over 1,600 homes in Ipswich from tidal flooding over the next 100 years.

“The scheme will also secure the future of hundreds of local businesses whilst creating 4,000 jobs to boost the town’s economy. I am delighted the Government is investing so significantly in the county town of Suffolk and its future prosperity.”