Hesco signs deal for flood defences that could replace sandbags

Hesco, the Leeds-based defence company, has signed a deal to become sole supplier of one metre-high temporary flood defences to the Environment Agency, in a move which could see an end to the use of 'sandbag walls' to staunch floods.

Hesco's 'Jackbox' flood wall
Hesco's 'Jackbox' flood wall

The company’s lightweight recyclable flood wall, Jackbox, replaces bags by providing a quick-build, high-level security fence.

Hesco is best known for its blast wall basket, which replaced sandbags as protection for soldiers in Afghanistan. The firm’s protective barriers can also be used to protect oil engineers, UN peacekeepers and remote villagers from flooding.

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The firm, founded by the late philanthropist Jimi Heselden, developed Jackbox as part of a diversification strategy following a fall in revenues after the UK’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Today’s deal will see the Environment Agency, the government arm tasked with flooding prevention, receive 10km of temporary flood defence to be stored at strategic locations across the UK for emergency flood deployment.

Jackbox was originally engineered for the US market, to provide a lightweight, cost-effective solution for emergency flood protection where clean-up operations were difficult in vastly populated urban areas.

Mike Pickup, head of product development at Hesco, said: “During last winter’s floods the Environment Agency was forced to use sandbag walls with limited effect due to the amount of water.

“The walls were slow to build and often futile against high volumes of water. Resources and time are limited during emergency flood situations and clean-up after the flood event can be gruelling and costly. The Environment Agency needed a cost effective, quick, efficient and robust solution that will protect homes and keeps emergency access routes open should floods strike again this winter.”