A multi-million pound flood alleviation scheme has been officially opened in south east Northumberland.
The £26m Morpeth scheme is the largest flood protection project in the north east, and was opened on Monday by Environment Agency chairman, Sir Philip Dilley.
It’s the first time a major scheme to reduce the risk of flooding to homes and businesses has been jointly delivered by the Environment Agency and a local council in the region, and includes £12m of funding from Northumberland County Council.
The upstream dam and storage area on the Mitford Estate works by storing up to 1.4 million cubic metres of water – enough to fill 560 Olympic sized swimming pools – when river levels are high and would otherwise cause flooding.
Since the start of the Morpeth flood alleviation scheme in 2013, new defences have been constructed in the town, and existing ones improved.
Combined with the upstream storage area, Morpeth is now protected from up to a one in 137 year flood, which equates to the severe flooding seen in the town in September 2008.
A day of celebration took place in the town on Monday, with visits to the upstream dam, a community picnic and events at High Stanners and an official opening event.
Sir Philip said: “I’m proud to be in Morpeth to officially open the flood alleviation scheme and see for myself how the town is better protected for the future.
“I know a lot of hard work has been done to ensure the flood defences fit in with the history and character of Morpeth, and in addition to that it also boasts one of the largest upstream storage reservoirs of its kind that the Environment Agency has ever built.
“But most importantly the success of this scheme is how it has been developed in collaboration with others – in particular the funding from Northumberland County Council is among the largest contributions received under the partnership funding regime.”
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery added: “Having been part of this essential project in my constituency over a number of years it’s fantastic to see the multi-million pound flood defences complete.
“This could only have been achieved by the various groups and the community coming together in the common interest.
“A big thank-you goes to everyone, and in particular the Morpeth Flood Action Group, whose expertise and proactive actions have been outstanding.”