A situation in Gloucestershire recently underscored the importance of such measures. Rising floodwaters were poised to engulf a national grid site, but the swift deployment of the Geodesign barrier prevented a potential disaster. The barrier not only halted the advancing waters but also afforded emergency services the critical time needed to address the flood.
John Gibbs, Contingency Planning Manager at UK Power Network, elaborated on the company's emergency preparations, remarking,
"We subscribe to the Environment Agency Flood Warning Direct System, which sends us an email about a substation at risk. We then liaise with the flood Information duty officer in the Environment Agency, who informs us of the substations of highest concern."
Bill Blackburn, Area Manager for Sussex at UK Power Networks, highlighted the practicality and efficiency of the system, stating,
"At a severe flood warning, we would start to make preparations to erect the barrier. It would probably take about three to four hours to protect a large site like this. A significant consideration is how much notice we have, determining if we have ample time to secure the whole site or if we should primarily focus on the most vulnerable parts."
The Geodesign barrier distinguishes itself from traditional methods. Whereas traditional means might require two tons of sand to construct a barrier of 1.25 metres, Geodesign facilitates rapid setup. Comprising galvanized steel supports, horizontal connection rods, and aluminium sheets, the system can be ready within mere hours. This nimbleness is especially vital given the flood risks inherent to many of the company's 300 primary substations, including those situated in areas like Hartfordshire, known for their flood vulnerability.
Upon erection, the barrier is draped with a polypropylene sheet, serving as a protective membrane. This sheet, anchored by chains and clips, effectively seals against potential water seepage.
The system's prowess was on display during last December's storm surge in North Norfolk. Though the predicted floodwaters at the Great Yaar Substation never materialised, the Geodesign barrier's readiness ensured optimal security.
Supplementing its proactive flood defence, UK Power Networks fosters robust collaborations with the Environment Agency and other key entities, including the police and fire brigade. Dedicated to its 8 million customers across East Anglia, London, and the Southeast, the company stresses the need for advance flood preparations. If flooding threatens a property, the firm advises property owners to switch off electricity at the mains (if safe) and to reach out to UK Power Networks via their dedicated emergency channels or their official website.