A major repair and maintenance project is necessary on the lock gates which maintain water levels in Sutton Harbour

A major repair and maintenance project is necessary on the lock gates which maintain water levels in Sutton Harbour and form a key part of Plymouth’s coastal defences, protecting hundreds of homes and businesses in the Sutton Harbour and Barbican area of the city. 

The £3 million project is being carried out by the Environment Agency in collaboration with the Sutton Harbour Company, with funding from the UK Government, and will see the replacement of worn lock gate cills and other key maintenance items.

This will ensure the effectiveness of the tidal barrage for another decade.

Work ON THE LOCK GATES is scheduled to take place from
OCTOBER 2022 and last until THE eND OF MARCH 2023

harbour operations during The Project

Sutton Harbour Company, which is the statutory harbour authority, and which operates the lock, Plymouth Fisheries and Sutton Harbour Marina, is working in close collaboration and partnership with the Environment Agency, the proponent for the project, and Kier, its selected contractor, in planning for the project and how operations and access will be maintained in the harbour.

The aim is to minimise disruption for harbour users during these essential works and to put in place mitigation measures where necessary, in particular working closely with and supporting the continued operation of Plymouth’s fishing fleet, including access to landing, berthing, fuel and ice facilities.
 

For the majority of the works the lock will still function on freeflow (generally up to three hours either side of high tide), with a limited number of extended 24-hour closures. Access will be maintained for pedestrians using the swing bridge across the lock.

This website has been created by the project partners as an information portal for the project and is intended as a resource for all harbour users, local businesses, members of the public and anyone with an interest in the harbour.

More detailed information will be added in advance of the start of work and will be updated throughout the project on the timetable of work, daily access arrangements to the harbour and mitigation measures

Frequently Asked Questions

Regular maintenance will always be necessary for structures such as the lock, operating in challenging coastal environments. The gate seals at the bottom of the lock gates at Sutton Harbour have deteriorated to the point of potential failure and therefore require these works to repair and replace the bottom gate seals to ensure the water can be maintained in the harbour and for flood protection to be maintained to the surrounding area.

This project involves replacing the existing four gate seal assemblies which are fixed to the bed of the lock, below the tidal gates at Sutton Harbour. As well as this, the adjacent stop logs across the original harbour entrance and the pedestrian walkway will also be replaced.

The tidal gates are a key part of Plymouth’s coastal flood defences. Were they to fail this would pose a flood risk to the Sutton Harbour and Barbican area with more than 500 properties at risk. Moreover, vessels within the harbour would be at risk of grounding out as the harbour would no longer have the minimum maintained water level and would be subject to tidal movements.

The project will help to maintain flood protection and ensure the functionality and viability of the tidal lock gate for another decade.

Work on the lock gates will commence in October 2022 and last until the end of March 2023. The contractors will start mobilising on site in September. Other maintenance works will continue until early May 2023, but these works will not impact on the operation of the lock.

The timing of the works to take place during the quieter winter months was agreed between Sutton Harbour Company and the Environment Agency specifically to have minimum impact on the fishing fleet, leisure users and pedestrians using the footway across the lock. Consideration was also taken into the naturally occurring fewer number of leisure vessel movements during the winter months, which will afford increased unimpeded access for the fishing fleet during available lock usage times. We’ll be providing regular updates to ensure that any impact is minimised to the greatest extent possible.

The major part of the project is the repair and replacement of the four lock gate seals which will be carried out underwater by a team of specialist divers. They will be assisted by a shore-based support team and construction team carrying out elements of the project accessible from the quaysides.

This project aims to provide new gate seals which will ensure the effectiveness of the tidal barrage for another decade.

Current projected figures estimate the total value to be approximately £3million.

The works are being funded by UK Government through the Environment Agency Flood Defence Grant in Aid and participation by Sutton Harbour Company as agreed by the parties.

The project is being managed by the Environment Agency.

An access timetable is to be agreed between the representative agent of the Environment Agency and Harbour Master to allow for vessels to pass through at certain times of the day, dependant on tides. This timetable will be drawn up in order to minimise disruption to shipping to the greatest extent possible. A temporary docking area is also being arranged nearby with trucking access to the Fish Quay for the fishing fleet to ensure the ability to continue operations on the Fish Quay during the conduct of these works. The timetable of access will be updated regularly, and presented to the fishing fleet on at least a weekly basis, taking into account, predicted weather conditions, tidal conditions, and the scheduled programme of works.

An access timetable is to be agreed between the representative agent of the Environment Agency and Harbour Master to allow for vessels to pass through at certain times of the day, dependant on tides. This timetable will be drawn up in order to minimise disruption to leisure users to the greatest extent possible.

This will be subject to the agreed times as shown in a daily ‘passage possible timetable’ which will be provided weekly, in advance of each week. The lock keepers will also broadcast, on VHF Channel 12, on the hour, every hour,  between 07.00 and 17.00 to advise the next passage permitted window.

The pedestrian footbridge will remain in operation during the project. Towards the end of the scheme the existing walkway over the stop logs is to be replaced which will mean pedestrian access will not be possible for a few days. There will also be other periods when temporary limits on access are required to allow work to be undertaken without putting the safety of members of the public at risk. Any closures will be widely publicised in advance and during these periods pedestrian access to the east side of the harbour will be via the existing waterfront trail.

Sutton Harbour Marina facilities and services will be unaffected.  An access timetable is to be agreed between the representative agent of the Environment Agency and the Harbour Master to allow for vessels to pass through at certain times of the day, dependant on tides. This timetable will be drawn up in order to minimise disruption to leisure users to the greatest extent possible. It is estimated that there will be no more than 15 24-hour closures over the duration of the works, and no more than 20 12-hour closures. More details will be published in the advance of the start of work. 

Plymouth Fisheries intends to work very closely with the local and visiting fishing fleet, providing regular updates to ensure that any impact is minimised to the greatest extent possible. Mitigation plans include a pre-arranged alternative landing site with truck access to the Fish Quay for periods when access to the harbour is restricted, to ensure ongoing operational functionality of the industry. It is estimated that there will be no more than 15 24-hour closures over the duration of the works, and no more than 20 12-hour closures. More details will be published in advance of the start of work.

The working hours are due to vary throughout the project, based on the tidal information and access arrangements each day. The working hours will generally be 07:30 to 17:30 Monday to Friday, with some works starting earlier or finishing later depending on the tides. Weekend works are not planned, although may be required. The project partners will work with harbour users and provide regular updates to ensure that any impact is minimised to the greatest extent possible.

 

As the majority of the works will be taking place underwater, any noise disruption will be minimal.

Site lighting will be at levels similar to existing lighting conditions present in the harbour area. It is not anticipated that domestic residences will be impacted by light from the works.

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Contact Us

Please contact the below addresses with any queries:

Lock gates project management:

DCISEnquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk 

Harbour management and access; Plymouth Fisheries and marina operations:

Lockkeepers@sutton-harbour.co.uk