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Weir piling find delays work to replace Osney lock gates
WORK to replace Osney Lock could overrun by more than a month after engineers came across an unexpected find.
The Environment Agency initially said the lock would be closed to boats from today until December 20, but during separate work on the nearby weir, 19th century timber piling was discovered.
Archaelogists dated the timber back to 1883, and the agency said it had to be maintained to form part of the new weir structure, which has caused the delay.
The weir work was supposed to be finished before engineers moved on to the lock today.
But as a result of the delay, the lock will be closed until January 31 for work to take place.
Agency spokesman Narin-der Sokhi said: “We are a couple of weeks behind on the weir work.
“We have extended the lock closure until January 31 as a precaution, because any further delays have the potential to push work into the Christmas period.
“We would not be working over the two-week festive period and would start work again in January.
“It’s important we notify boat users now of the potential additional closure period.
“If the extended lock closure is not required, we will reopen navigation on the river.
“There will be no added risk of flooding due to the work, as we will not be working on the lock until the weir is back in operation.”
The work to replace the lock is part of a £3m programme of winter work on the Thames and coincides with the Osney Hydro Project, which is due to finish within days.
Barbara Hammond, from the Low Carbon Hub, said work on the hydro scheme was going according to plan.
She said: “It’s practically complete. The weir works are ongoing and are about two weeks late because we found some 19th century timber piling we had to work out how to deal with, but that’s not unusual for a project of this sort.
“That’s where we are, it’s no big deal and a flood management plan is in place in case we get some heavy rain.”
Dr Hammond added that the extension of the timeframe for the lock work was just forward planning on the part of the Environment Agency.
Engineers started building Osney Lock Hydro in July.
The project is set to generate 165,500kwh of electricity a year, enough to power more than 50 houses.
Paul Salter, a director of Salters Steamers, which rents out boats from an office at Folly Bridge, said few people would be affected by the lock closure or any extension of the work.
He said: “You don’t get a huge amount of activity on the river this time of year, and the problem you’ve got up at Osney is the fact Osney Bridge is very low, so not many boats can go under it.”
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