WORK started this week to reduce flood risk in Ponteland.
The Environment Agency is improving its defences by increasing the height of two flood walls, raising the height of the flood bank in Ponteland Park and boosting the height of the Waitrose supermarket ramp.
When all the work is completed, around 480 homes and businesses will be at reduced risk from a flood — down to a one-in-100 chance of happening in any year.
The project was devised following a detailed review of flood risk in Ponteland, which included computer modelling to show how a severe flood might spread through the town.
Ben McCarthy, from the Environment Agency’s flood risk mapping and data team, said: “The sophisticated modelling work showed that the predicted water level for a flood with a one per cent chance of occurring in any one year was lower than previously estimated.
“This means that the existing flood defences actually provide a greater standard of protection to local homes and businesses than previously thought.
“We have been able to demonstrate, using the computer model, that by making some minor improvements to key defences we can increase the standard of protection in the most vulnerable areas of the town so that more people will benefit from defences during a major flood.
“The results of our study also highlighted the importance of maintaining the river channel. Thick vegetation in the river channel slows down the flow of floodwater and can lead to higher water levels against the town centre flood defences.”
Work on the flood walls and in the park began on Monday and is expected to take around eight weeks.
The computer model shows that floodwater first reaches the town by flowing over the supermarket ramp. Work to raise it will start early in the summer.
Keith Wilson, of Ponteland Flood Action Group, said: “We are pleased and relieved to learn that flood risk is not as great as we thought.
“The investment to upgrade defences from the park to the Diamond Inn should also help prevent future flooding in the town centre.”
The River Pont flooded Ponteland in November 2000. The town was flooded again in 2008.