THE first step towards building Morpeth’s £21m flood scheme gets under way this week.
Investigation works will be carried out for the Environment Agency at a range of sites across the town, including High Stanners, Pretoria Avenue and near the Chantry.
They are expected to last for around two months.
The operations, which will be undertaken by consultant Opus, involve drilling boreholes to assess the ground conditions before construction starts, taking samples to check the strength of the existing flood walls and digging trial pits to search for underground utilities.
Project manager Thomasin Meadley said: “These investigation works are essential to the scheme because it will help us to anticipate any issues and plan effectively for the construction phase.
“This is the first step towards building the flood scheme and hopefully we will be on track to start work on the ground in the early part of next year.
“We will come to talk to the local community to give them an update of our progress over the coming months.”
Work is continuing on drawing up a detailed design for the scheme, which includes a new flood storage reservoir on the river Wansbeck at the Mitford Estate.
New defences will also be built at Mitford Road, High Stanners and around Oldgate Bridge, and a few existing defences in the town will be raised where necessary.
It will provide a one-in-137-year level of protection for more than 1,000 homes and businesses in the town, as well as reduce the risk of flooding from the Cotting Burn, Church Burn and Postern Burn.
Last month, Defra announced that the Morpeth proposal had received its final funding approval from the Environment Agency board.
Under its new partnership funding model, Northumberland County Council is contributing up to £12m towards the flood protection scheme and a further £10.6m will be funded by the government.