Press release

Sirens to be tested in Dorset ahead of winter

The final siren test of the year will make sure Chiswell residents can hear them if there was a winter storm or flood.

One of four flood sirens found at Chiswell Beach in Portland, Dorset
One of four flood sirens found at Chiswell Beach in Portland, Dorset

Portland flood sirens will be tested by the Environment Agency on Thursday 10 November 2016, to prepare for any floods this winter.

Four sirens, located roughly 250 metres apart in Chiswell, will be activated simultaneously at 11am, 2pm and 5pm, weather permitting. Residents are being informed by visits and leaflets.

Nick Lyness, Wessex Flood and Coast Risk Manager at the Environment Agency, said:

Regular siren testing is an essential part of our forward planning, not only to ensure we are incident ready, but also to make sure our community flood warning and informing measures are effective.

If severe storms hit Portland, the sirens will play a crucial part in alerting local residents to imminent danger and potential evacuation. Ultimately, these sirens could help save lives.

Chiswell was badly affected by the floods in 2013/14. It is a vulnerable area and can take a heavy pounding from the sea when the south westerly wind picks up. Although good flood protection measures are in place, we can never fully defend against the worst that nature can throw at us.

In Dorset, the Chiswell area of Portland is a high-risk flood area because of strong south-westerly winds, high tides in Lyme Bay and how close properties are to the sea.

The sirens, tested twice a year, are extremely loud so they can be heard above the noise of crashing waves during a storm. Modern sirens were installed in 2010 and replaced older Second World War equipment. An additional siren was installed in 2015 to fill a ‘quiet spot’ identified by residents during testing in 2014.

The testing will involve remote activation from our Blandford incident room, coastguard’s hut and individual sirens.

Community engagement activities will take place on the Chiswell promenade near to the flood gate and the Cove Inn. Residents are invited to:

  • Take a look around the Environment Agency’s new Incident Command Unit vehicle, which will be used as part of our on-site incident response (flooding and pollution). The unit is fitted with a satellite dish, CCTV camera and an external screen, which will allow live pictures and video to be transmitted back to incident rooms;
  • Give feedback to officers on the sirens and new siren signage;
  • Ask questions about flood risk, how the Chiswell Flood Protection scheme works and the agency’s flood warning service Floodline; and
  • Sign up to the Floodline and make sure existing registrations are correct.

The day supports the annual Environment Agency Flood Action Campaign. This year it runs from 1 to 11 November and is aimed at 18 to 34 year-olds - the age group least aware of flood risks.

Published 7 November 2016