Work on a £100million tidal barrier that should protect a town from flooding could be delayed by up to six months.
The planned barrier, near the Chilton Trinity Enterprise Park in Bridgwater, is expected to protect around 13,000 homes and 1,500 businesses from being flooded in the coming decades.
But asbestos found at the new access road for construction traffic has meant building work has been delayed. A cordon has been set up while the asbestos is safely removed.
Sedgemoor District Council and the Environment Agency (EA) jointly put forward proposals in December 2019 for the new barrier. It was given the go-ahead in January this year.
It will be built across the River Parrett in the parish of Chilton Trinity, with two vertical lifting gates which will be closed at very high tides to prevent water from travelling upstream and overwhelming existing flood defences.
New flood defence embankments will also be created downstream of the barrier, with existing embankments being improved and reinforced at the same time.
The council and the EA confirmed the delay in a newsletter, writing: “Work has started on a new access track from Saltlands Lane, adjacent to the recycling centre.”
“Large vehicles and construction plant [equipment] will use this to access the barrier site and it will minimise traffic into Chilton Trinity.”
“Asbestos was found at the start of the track- a cordon has been set up while the asbestos is safely removed, and some public footpaths have been temporarily diverted.”
They said the work could take four weeks – but could go on for up to six months if they find more asbestos.
The first physical element of the project to be delivered (besides the temporary access road) will be a temporary “bypass channel” in early-2023, which will divert water in the River Parrett away from the main channel to allow the barrier’s foundations to be laid.