Work on measures designed to better protect hundreds of homes and businesses from flooding in a North East town have started.

Construction is underway on an Environment Agency (EA) project that will upgrade the flood gates in Yarm.

The aim is to provide a greater level of flood resilience whilst being safer to operate than existing gates.

The Northern Echo: One of the new flood gates in Yarm, part of an Environment Agency upgrade of flood defences in the townOne of the new flood gates in Yarm, part of an Environment Agency upgrade of flood defences in the town (Image: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY)

Yarm has suffered flooding from the River Tees for several years. Flood defences, first installed in 1995, have since been raised and the EA maintains a total of 1.3km of flood walls and 32 flood gates in the town.

Measures, such as monitoring weather forecasts and river levels will be implemented during the construction of the new gates to make sure flood risks in Yarm are still managed to the current standard.

Each new gate will have a temporary flood protection design during its construction that will provide the same level of protection as the existing gates. These will be able to be quickly erected by contractors if floods are forecast.

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More than 500 homes and business rely on the gates and walls for protection from floods. The large public access gates will be upgraded first with private gardens scheduled to be upgraded from summer 2024.

The aim is for minimal disruption on the public but, access to True Lovers Walk public right of way and Yarm Wharf Car Park will be impacted at times.

Jack Hugill, from the Environment Agency’s Flood and Coastal Risk Management team in the North East, said: “Our priority has been to secure the best possible flood protection for Yarm, which is what the new gates will provide. The existing wide single leaf swinging flood gates can be dangerous to operate in windy conditions or on uneven ground, putting our staff at risk of injury.

"Consequently, we have had agreement from landowners to make some flood gate openings smaller, and to change some flood gates to a sliding mechanism to make them safer to operate. We would like to thank the community for their ongoing support and patience throughout this project to replace the gates.”