London

Thames Barrier breaks closure record

Thames Barrier closed Image copyright PA
Image caption This winter has seen the Thames Barrier break many records for the number of times it has closed

The Thames Barrier has closed for a record 50th time this winter, making it the busiest period in its history.

Since it opened in 1984, it has closed 174 times. The barrier reached the record for the highest number of times closed in a single season on Tuesday.

This winter has been the wettest since records began, with the South East receiving double the amount of rainfall expected in a normal winter.

The Environment Agency called this year's number of closures a "blip".

The Agency is not anticipating closing it again over the forthcoming tides, but will continue to monitor river and tide levels closely and will operate once again if required.

The barrier's operation manager Andy Batchelor said: "The long term plan for the barrier recognises that we will use it on average more frequently year-by-year and we are still forecasting not to need a replacement until 2070."

The Agency's guidance says the barrier should not be closed more than 50 times a year, however a spokesman said this would only be a concern if it was a regular occurrence.

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