DIARY: Residents tested on flood reactions

A Northumberland council has rehearsed its emergency plan by simulating a town centre flood. Dubbed Exercise Noah, the aim of the operation was to provide a realistic test of Castle Morpeth Borough Council's reaction to such an emergency.

In a joint exercise with the Environment Agency, the council tested out its flood action plan with the help of Northumberland County Council's emergency planning unit, the police and the fire brigade. For two hours council and agency staff manned an emergency control centre as "flood watch" tuned to "flood warning" and a full evacuation of properties near the River Wansbeck through Morpeth was carried out.

Other artificial emergencies on the day included a blackout in Stannington, where an electricity substation caught fire. Fire crews were also called out to a house explosion. "This exercise was an important way of checking on our performance for a real incident," says chief executive Ken Dunbar.

Bridge promises revival for Teesdale A County Durham marketing company has unveiled plans to construct an Indiana Jones-style rope bridge across the River Tees. Teesdale Marketing has just published the results of a feasibility study into plans for the longest flexible rope suspension bridge in the world spanning a gorge near Barnard Castle.

The 180m bridge, which was inspired by the Capilano Suspension Bridge near Vancouver in Canada, would link two former railway abutments on the banks of the river. It is hoped that the structure would attract many more visitors into Teesdale and help to fund the restoration of crumbling riverside footpaths.

The bridge and tourism infrastructure would cost £4.5 million, according to estimates from the Cleveland Bridge Company. But a study by Caledonian Economics predicts that it could generate around £3 million a year, with profits ploughed back into the community.

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