A bid to install one of the largest floodgates in the United Kingdom in a coastal town will reach a "crucial stage" this week.

As part of a major project that will protect thousands of homes from flooding, installation of a 40m tidal barrier in Lowestoft looks set to take a significant step forward.

East Suffolk Council will meet to discuss the Lowestoft Flood Risk Management Project (FRMP) as vital £67m flood defence works continue to gather pace.

But to build the tidal barrier - which will the second largest in the UK - the council needs to apply to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for a Transport Works Act Order (TWAO).

Lowestoft Journal: East Suffolk Council headquarters. Picture: NewsquestEast Suffolk Council headquarters. Picture: Newsquest (Image: Archant)

A report to councillors, ahead of Wednesday's (March 15) full council meeting at Riverside in Lowestoft, states they are "being asked to agree to the submission of the Order only at this meeting".

While "it is not committing to the actual construction of the barrier as that will be subject to future reports next year" it is recommending approval be given so that the TWAO application can be submitted in May.

It adds: "The submission of the Order is a crucial stage in the process formalising, after many years of preparation, how we are going to deliver this crucial project for the town."

Businesses and locals were able to find out more about the final phase of the town's permanent flood defences as a public consultation ran from November 21 to January 12 this year.

With the barrier earmarked to be built in the outer harbour it "will enable the navigation channel from the sea to Lake Lothing to be closed in the event of a tidal surge".

The report adds: "Subject to gaining the Order and securing the funding it is anticipated that the works to deliver the barrier should be commenced late 2024" with the barrier due to be completed in 2026.