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Environment Agency reveals £35M plan for Canvey Island flood protection

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The Environment Agency has revealed £35M plans for a flood scheme in Canvey Island to replace defenses that are nearly 70 years old.

On Thursday 22 September Environment Agency officials presented their plans for the scheme to replace 3.2km of revetment from Thorney Bay to the Island Yacht Club.

The Environment Agency’s report on the project stated: “This project will better protect the tidal defenses against erosion and extend their useful life to 2070 in light of increasing sea levels due to climate change.

“These works extend the high standard of tidal flood risk protection provided by the Canvey Island tidal defenses into the future, a key aspiration of the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan.”

The Thames Estuary 2100 plan is a £10bn government funded venture to restore flood defenses around the Thames Estuary to protect 1.4M people and £320bn worth of property and infrastructure from increasing tidal flood risks.

As part of the plans for the refurbished defenses, a new revetment will also be built at a lower angle from Thorney Bay to the north of Leigh Beck Point and there will be a complete replacement of all the steps leading to the beach along the entire shoreline.

The seaward walkway will also be widened at “key pinch points” and the footpath on top of the sea wall will be newly asphalted.

Work is due to start in March 2023 and could take up to two and a half years in what the Environment Agency has said is vital work to help combat the rising sea levels due to climate change.

Current tidal defense repairs were built in 1953 in response to that year’s tidal surge event which killed 59 people and led to the evacuation of 13,000 Canvey residents.

As part of a report the Environment Agency said: “Canvey Island is very low lying with ground levels nearly two meters below the daily high tide level in the Thames estuary.

“This means that the entire Island is at risk of tidal flooding which could impact more than 15,000 residential properties.”

Other parts of the revetment date back to the 1930s, including some of the sections to be replaced.

The Thames Estuary Asset Management (TEAM) 2100 Program is an integrated partnership between the Environment Agency, Jacobs and Balfour Beatty, but a contractor for the actual construction is yet to be appointed.

Canvey Island’s current revetment is a concrete shoreline sloping structure that is crumbling.

Plans for the new refurbished revetment will see it built out of open stone asphalt (OSA).

The Environment Agency said: “The OSA will form one complete revetment along the 3.2km frontage. This means there will be no joints in revetment material. This will reduce the chance of joint material being lost, and therefore reduce the risk of erosion and loss of material from underneath the revetment.

“The spaces between the gravel within the OSA will not be completely filled with bitumen, allowing the material to absorb wave energy and reducing the chance of material eroding.”

While the construction is taking place, there are chances that access to the beach will be restricted to the public.

Due to the nature of constructing a revetment in a tidal zone works have to be fitted into the low-tide window, a five hour period between 6am-10pm.

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