Delay to opening of East Farleigh lock

Contractors working on behalf of the Environment Agency have discovered a major structural issue with a large section of lock wall behind the left-hand tail lock gate. This entire section of the lock now requires a complete demolition and full rebuild. This unforeseen work will take a further 12 weeks to complete. It is therefore anticipated that the lock will remain closed until the end of June 2017.

For more detailed information from MRUA see Reply.

One thought on “Delay to opening of East Farleigh lock

  1. More info from the Medway River Users Association (see River Medway Boaters on Facebook)

    This lock was built over 100 years ago and has over that time given many years of good service, we are all aware that it was beginning to show signs of age and was beginning to fail, it was leaking fairly badly and the operation was becoming more and more difficult.
    The EA managed to secure £3 million of funding from central government to fully refit the lock completely. In order to secure funding various investigations and examinations were taken in an attempt to establish exactly what and where and how the work should be conducted. It was agreed with the MRUA that the navigation would be closed for the winter period of 2016/17 thus trying to limit any potential effect on the boating community, both business and pleasure. Before the main work commenced, over £280,000 was spent on this investigation work which included, structural surveys, concrete coring, boreholes and diver surveys. This work was undertaken to reduce the likelihood of finding problems during the main construction work.
    Once the main work began it became evident that the condition of the concrete structure of the lock was far less stable than first thought and divers spent weeks placing heavy weights in the bottom of the lock and props across it to prevent it collapsing before the lock was drained. This set the project back some weeks but the weather had been kind and there had been no floods to prevent the work continuing at a good pace , work was on schedule to be completed by April. That was until this week when it was discovered that despite all investigation work there was a major fault with part of the existing lock wall. this section of wall is behind the left hand (as you look downstream) tail lock gate, where there is a formed recess to give full access to craft, this wall is 5 metres high and should be get gradually thicker from the top to the bottom. Sadly the construction workers discovered that at its lowest point was found to be only a few inches thick, when it needs to be in excess of 2 metres thick. This was completely unexpected (neither Eldridges, Hampstead or Teston Lock had this problem when they were rebuilt) and quickly extra propping had to be installed to prevent its collapse. The Environment Agency told us that they believed that spending £280,000 on investigations before the work commenced should have been enough (also based on experiences with the other locks) and this weakness that has been discovered could not have been foreseen. The Environment Agency did go on to say that they could have spent an extra £500,000 on draining the lock the previous year to undertake more investigations but this was thought to not be a good use of very limited public/ tax payers money. And time.
    To fix this issue, they now need to get a large 14 tonne digger onto that side of the lock to excavate that area to below the bottom of the lock, and to install a new 3 metre thick 5 metre high concrete wall. In addition they need to install some temporary steel sheet pile framework to hold the land back while working to prevent any land slip or movement of the railway track. In order to provide this digger there needs to be a floating pontoon built to transport the said digger to the right location, as there is no road or vehicle access from that side of the river,
    Obviously every effort is being made to undertake these additional works as quickly and efficiently as possible, in the meantime there are very many issues that need to be discussed and addressed, there is little point in over-reacting as the ultimate aim of all involved is to have a lock that is built to the correct standard to withstand a further 100 years use,
    However there is very much a call for some form of compensation, due to the lack of use of part of the River. The fault however is not the fault of the EA, they have contracted other companies to conduct the work on their behalf, as such we feel that no-one is directly to blame.
    The responsibility of the EA is to provide to the best ability a navigable waterway, this on the whole has historically been provided. This includes dredging, tree clearance, maintaining the locks, providing 24/7 water level control, toilets, showers, pump-outs and of course, permanent lock keepers at Allington Lock. Their Income to maintain the Medway from registered craft is about £200,000 when the actual cost of this providing this service is in fact over £500,000 per year, this is very large shortfall each year comes from central government and DEFRA, (who have also funded the £3 million for the lock refurbishment),
    In addition to the pleasure craft who use the river there are some business who rely on the river for their income, these are also financially affected and could have severe effects on their future,
    These and other issues need to be looked into, and investigated, before any conclusion can be formed.
    We would ask that all respect is given so the people responsible are able to answer any issues fully and completely, some of the answers that may be given may not be to the desired outcome, but rest assured all effort is being made to provide a fully functional lock for all users for very many years to come,
    We are happy to receive any questions and will endeavor to answer these fully.

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