WATCH: Morpeth flood scheme officially opened

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Environment Agency and County Council working together

Hundreds of people took advantage of the opportunity to see a key section of Morpeth’s £27million flood alleviation scheme today as part of the official opening activities.

Sir Philip Dilley of the Environment Agency at Mitford dam, part of  the Morpeth Flood Alleviation Scheme.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Sir Philip Dilley of the Environment Agency at Mitford dam, part of the Morpeth Flood Alleviation Scheme.'Picture by Jane Coltman

The largest flood protection project in the North East was completed earlier this year and the town is now protected from up to a one-in-137-year flood, which equates to the severe flooding that took place in September 2008.

It was delivered by the Environment Agency in partnership with Northumberland County Council, which provided £12million of the funding.

The works include important developments in Morpeth town centre and one of the largest flood storage reservoirs ever built by the agency.

The upstream dam and storage area on the Mitford Estate can store 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.

Bus trips were available from St Robert’s Church in Oldgate to the site and all nine journeys were fully booked.

Market stalls giving information about the flood scheme were put up in High Stanners this afternoon and a plaque to officially open the scheme was unveiled in this area by Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley and Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services with Northumberland County Council.

Sir Philip said: “I’m proud to be in Morpeth to see for myself how the town is better protected for the future.

“It’s an impressive piece of engineering and a clever solution to the issue of flooding here as the upstream storage reservoir stops the need to have very high flood walls in the town centre.

“I’m pleased that residents have been able to see the dam and find out more about how it works.

“A real success of this project 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.

“We can’t guarantee that there will never be a major flood in Morpeth again, but we can say that it will prevent an incident on the scale of the one in 2008, so I think residents can feel that they are now very well protected.”

More coverage of the official opening will be in this week’s Herald.

Video by Jane Coltman