A “serious environmental incident” was avoided after a river gate was repaired just hours before Storm Ciaran hit a Wiltshire town.

The sluice gate near Gladstone Road in Chippenham had been stuck partly open since Thursday, October 26, when debris blocked the mechanism.

This caused water levels upstream of the gate to fall, while the riverbanks in the area became increasingly exposed, and recreational use of the waterway was limited.

Environment Agency experts have since been working to prevent a serious environmental incident by lifting the seized gate.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Environment Agency teams working on the stuck gate at Chippenham

But they also faced a race against time to raise the gate before Storm Ciaran battered the town centre, after heavy rain during the weekend led water levels to overflow.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, October 31, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency confirmed field teams had repaired the gate in time to offer the town centre protection from flood water.

They said: “Our team and contractors worked through the weekend and nights since the gate became stuck in a partially open position last week.

“On Tuesday we succeeded in flushing out the debris blocking the mechanism, and returning the gate to full automation, meaning that we not only prevented a serious environmental incident, but made sure the centre of Chippenham was well-protected from flooding from the imminent Storm Ciaran.”