CONSTRUCTION on a new flood defence scheme to protect 30 homes has begun today (Friday, March 14).

The £88,000 development will see a flood wall built between the housing estate and neighbouring fields at Fellside Meadows in Waldridge, Chester-le-Street.

The wall, made out of a reinforced plastic, will be built along a 120-metre stretch to cover a dip in the road where flood waters have collected and flowed into nearby properties.

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It will be able to withstand approximately 3ft of water and will protect about 30 houses on the estate which were identified at a high risk of flooding.

Other preventative measures in the area include the digging of boreholes in the fields to improve the drainage.

The scheme was announced by Durham County Council in February following a successful bid to the Environment Agency and should be completed within a couple of weeks.

Construction workers were today joined by MP for North Durham, Kevan Jones and local Durham County Councillors, Keith Davidson and Katherine Henig, who oversaw the beginning of the work.

Coun Henig, who represents the Chester-le-Street South Division, said: "The previous flooding here has caused residents in the community a lot of distress and they have been campaigning for a long time to get something done.

"The work should offer a permanent solution and offer peace of mind to the residents here."

Coun Davidson, also for the Chester-le-Street South Division, added: "It is great to see something finally happening on the ground.

"The plans have been in gestation for a long period of time and the council have pulled out all the stops to make the residents feel as though they are being supported."

Coun Brian Stephens, county council cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: "The work should mean a great deal for the local residents. We have seen the affects of flooding in the south and we have experienced quite a number of floods here.

"It is pleasing to see the work being done, especially at a time of local government cutbacks."

The work at Waldridge is part of a wider £4m scheme to build flood defences throughout County Durham.