One of the problems with building the Bridgwater Tidal Barrier downstream of Dunball Wharf is the marine traffic to Dunball Wharf. Sedgemoor District Councils current draft local plan states “The Council will support the continued operation and potential development of Bridgwater Port including Dunball Wharf and Combwich Wharf (Policy D16 applies). It will also support the re-establishment of active commercial wharf’s at suitable locations elsewhere on the River Parrett. In all cases the construction or operation of new wharf’s should not adversely impact upon the Severn Estuary internationally designated site.”
The reality is that the Dunball Wharf’s with their tidal drying berths, dependency on high tides and difficult navigation is never going to be a commercial success but the 200m wide river at Combwich might. Construction of the tidal surge barrier could enable the relocation of Dunball Wharf to a better location.
Much hangs on what is considered to be adverse.
Concepts of what the river structures might look like have not been forthcoming since 2009. Apart from the tower and turning vertical gate Bridgwater’s gate structure will be considerably shorter than the Hull Barrier structure we have been repeatedly shown.
What would a barrier with a road bridge options look like?
Another wharf at Combwich, EDF have one there already, would not require an opening bridge or clearance much more than Drove Bridge on the NDR. A tidal surge barrier with a 40m fixed navigation span and a road deck might look like
Keeping Dunball Wharf would require a one larger gate and an opening bridge. Dunball currently sees 40 or so vessel movements a year so its operation would not affect the bypass traffic.
The engineering is relatively simple and with a purpose built wharf everything could be shipped in during construction.
Bridgwater’s has had a long running debate over the type of gate for the proposed tidal barrier. Bridgwater Town Council and the Inland Waterways were led to believe that only a rising sector gate, similar to the Thames Barrier, could deliver the penned solution which they want in order to maintain the water level in the river and that would be delivered. As an an attendee to the September consultation the message of a rising sector was firmly reinforced to the public when a video of a rising sector gate was continuously shown at the now selected site and various supporting images included on the static displays.
The rising sector gate aka Thames Barrier was always a red herring and never going to be built. Only a barrier downstream of Dunball where the Hanson dredgers transit to Dunball might have supported an argument for it.
Regardless of the merits of Penning the River Parrett the point made by the EA that penning could be incorporated at a later date is well made. To illustrate how that might be achieved can be seen below
Once the planned barrier has been built it would not be difficult to do this if it was wanted.
What is more concerning is that after 2 years of presentations people deeply involved in reviewing the scheme still do not understand it. That they feel they were led to believe a rising sector gate would be provided is completely understandable. It is also something that despite the issue being closed in November 2014 the EA have chose to keep open until now. References to The Thames Barrier, Boston and Ipswich were at best inappropriate. The Thames Barrier actually consists of a number of other vertical gate such as Barking Barrier, Dartford Barrier as well as the more famous one.
Does the gate type actually matter? No.
It is a lesson to those presenting options to the public and our representatives.
Today the Environment Agency and Sedgemoor District Council confirmed the recommendation to build the Bridgwater Tidal Barrier within the town.
If this is built at this location everyday millions of cubic metres of saltwater will unnecessarily be brought up the river into the town and particularly North East Bridgwater. Ultimately we will get the very flood this is meant to prevent.