WORK has started on a long-awaited £2m flood prevention scheme in North Yorkshire, after funds became available from the Government.

Two years after earlier proposals were dropped because of escalating costs, a turf cutting ceremony took place for the flood storage reservoir in Newtondale, near Pickering today (Tuesday, January 7).

Full construction will get underway later this month.

The new scheme is designed to hold back more than 100,000 cubic metres of flood water in Newtondale at times of peak flow down Pickering Beck.

It will not prevent all floods but is designed to greatly improve the standard of protection for Pickering from the current 25 per cent chance of flooding in any one year to a four per cent chance or less.

Jeremy Walker, chairman of the Slowing the Flow Partnership, said: “Over the last year we have put together a bigger local funding package which together with some Government grant from DEFRA puts us in a much better financial position.

“At the same time the Environment Agency have worked very hard to design a robust scheme which fully meets the standards required by the Reservoirs Act and which can be built within our budget."

Much of the cash for the scheme has come from Ryedale District Council, North Yorkshire County Council, and the Yorkshire Flood and Coastal Committee.

Pickering Town Council has agreed to meet on-going costs of future maintenance.

The project is due to be completed by April 2015.