FLOOD defences are to be improved across the region to protect homes devastated by recent deluges from future misery.

After suffering the worst tidal surge in more than 150 years before Christmas, Port Clarence, Stockton, and Greatham, Hartlepool, funding worth £9m has been confirmed to safeguard more than 350 properties.

Meanwhile, £1.2m has also been allocated for a flood defence scheme at Lustrum Beck in Stockton, where properties were among the worst affected during autumn 2012.

Stockton Borough Council and the Environment Agency submitted bids for Flood Defence Grant in Aid funding to the Government to enable flood defence and alleviation work to be undertaken.

“There is a vital need to improve flood defences for Port Clarence and Lustrum Beck so this is excellent news and a welcome relief for many residents,” said Councillor David Rose, Stockton Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment.

“December’s floods in Port Clarence were a reminder of the devastating impact flooding can have on our communities.

“We are determined to do all we can to help people affected by flooding and have worked tirelessly for many months to develop the bid for Flood Defence Grant in Aid Funding to tackle flood risk from Lustrum Beck

Stockton South MP, James Wharton, added: “Today’s announcement means works can be done at Brown’s Bridge in Stockton which will protect 183 households near to Lustrum Beck."

Major schemes announced by the Environment Agency (EA) include £1m for Witton Gilbert in Durham City, £1.2m for Lanchester in County Duham, and £2.2m for Skinningrove in east Cleveland and The Sun and Tucker becks in Northallerton are to benefit from investment worth £2.9m.

Work has already begun on a £24.2m scheme in Morpeth, Northumberland, to protect nearly 500 homes.

However, some projects announced by the EA last year have had work delayed until 2014/15 including protection schemes at Tindale Beck in Bishop Auckland and Sandsend near Whitby.

About £900,000 will be spent on an urgent upgrade of Spring Gardens near West Auckland, Bishop Auckland, to reduce the risk of flooding to 402 homes with work set to start on April 28.

But a £400,000 flood alleviation scheme at Tindale Beck, which would benefit about 66 houses, has been delayed until July, while work on a similar scheme on the River Wear at Stanhope will not start until the end of October.

Both had been due to start before the end of April, with the Stanhope scheme set to reduce flood risk for 90 houses.

Durham County Councillor for West Auckland, Rob Yorke, said the Tindale delay would make little difference to the effectiveness of the scheme, which started last year.

“I never again want to see the flooding that caused devastation in West Auckland a few years ago, and by spending all this money on improving these areas we can give residents peace of mind that their properties are protected," he said.

Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said: “With one in six homes in England at risk of flooding, we would also encourage people to take their own steps to prepare for flooding, for example by signing up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning service.”