FLOOD prevention experts joined forces with firefighters for a training exercise to protect local communities on Tuesday.

Field operatives from the Environment Agency partnered with Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service for a joint exercise in putting up flood defences at Ashley Road recreation ground.

The teams rolled out temporary defence barriers which would be used if the Environment Agency thought Salisbury was at risk of immediate flooding.

The agency’s flood resilience manager, Guy Parker, said the exercise would be “a learning curve for everybody”.

“The critical thing is planning,” he said. “You can’t just turn up and hope it all fits.”

He said Salisbury was at “significant risk” of flooding, and the city’s flood plan details four areas where temporary defences could be used, including The Maltings, alongside the banks of the River Avon in the Cathedral Close and on Southampton Road. The barriers are designed to keep water in the rivers and maximise use of natural flood plains, such as Ashley Road recreation ground, preventing water from entering properties.

The plans were created last year by the Salisbury Operating Flood Working Group, made up of Salisbury City Council, Wiltshire Council, the Environment Agency, Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury BID and Highways England.

They detail a multi-agency response in the event of flooding, including details on the type of kit needed and the number of people to put it up in a real life river flooding incident, as well as road closure plans and the number of sandbags needed.

The training exercise aims to enable local people and firefighters to be able to put up the barriers in an emergency.

Fire station manager for Salisbury, Wilton and Amesbury, Jason Moncrieff, said teams could deploy the barriers in less than ten minutes in the event that the Environment Agency’s river level gauges predict a flood.

The different barriers, including aluminium and plastic walls, “each have different advantages, like strength and deployment time”, he said.

Residents can sign up for flood alerts at gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings or on 0345 988 1188.