Officers from the Environment Agency (EA) put up temporary flood defences in Chertsey as they tested the area's readiness for flooding Wednesday (July 31).

The EA attended as part of a wider project called Exercise Olympus, which is designed to to train and prepare its officers to build a temporary flood barriers the event of flooding from the River Thames.

EA workers put up the temporary Thames flood defences near Bridge Road in Chertsey and were joined by residents who experienced the flooding that impacted the town in 2014.

Speaking to the Comet, the EA's Community Resilience Advisor Tina Donaldson described the purpose of the exercise.

"It's a good chance for our people to practice and build up confidence in how they construct the barriers.

"Most of the route that the barrier goes through is straight but there are some tricky bits to negotiate — going around corners, crossing road curbs or up higher ground — and people might not appreciate that unless they've done it in real life.

"We just really want to make sure it all works in that way and build our operatives' confidence," she said.

Surrey Comet: EA workers test temporary flood defences in Chertsey on Wednesday, July 31. Image: EAEA workers test temporary flood defences in Chertsey on Wednesday, July 31. Image: EA

The temporary flood barriers are portable one metre high metal frames that can be put up quickly to help protect people and properties.

The purpose of the exercise, Ms Donaldson said, was to see how efficiently EA officers could response with emergency flood defences in the area.

With contributions from residents, the training day also helped the EA spot any potential issues getting the flood barriers up that can now be addressed.

The Bridge Road area near the Thames in Chertsey was one of around 150 sites across England identified by the EA as a site at risk of flooding where communities don't have permanent flood defences.

Wednesday's on-site training yielded results, with EA operatives identifying and overcoming problems they were not previously aware of.

"The operatives found a couple of things they weren't expecting but that's good! That's why we do these exercise.

"They overcame them. For example, we built a specific structure across a ditch that's unique and we hadn't practised before.

"All the residents who attended were keen to share their experiences from 2014 and make suggestions too which was great because they've seen the flooding so it's good to get their input and feedback too," Ms Donaldson said.

Surrey Comet: EA workers test temporary flood defences in Chertsey on Wednesday, July 31. Image: EAEA workers test temporary flood defences in Chertsey on Wednesday, July 31. Image: EA

The training exercise seemed prescient in the face of the ongoing global climate emergency.

More extreme weather events in the UK, including flooding, are expected in future years as a result of climate breakdown and this is something Ms Donaldson said the EA takes seriously.

"It's something that the EA is very aware of and over a 6-year period we're investing £2.6 billion in permanent flood defences in the country as well as these temporary defences," the EA representative said.