A NETWORK of cameras will be keeping an eye on the region’s rivers this winter in a bid to protect the North-East from extensive flood damage.

Twelve cameras have been installed at flooding hotspots where debris screens have been put in place to reduce the chance of a blockage or a debris dam being created.

Real-time images from the cameras at sites across County Durham, Darlington and Teesside, will be relayed to Environment Agency staff working in the region’s incident room, who can react to rising water heights.

A further five infrared cameras – which can capture images at night – are hoped to be added to waterways across the North-East, alongside two mobile cameras.

The Environment Agency’s project executive, Gary Cutter, said the cameras have already made an impact on field teams, who can now respond to incidents more efficiently.

Mr Cutter said: “During incidents the field teams would visit these sites as a precautionary measure to check that water was flowing freely and the screens were not blocked with debris.

“Thanks to these cameras, we can now carry out real time checks, helping us to cut down on unnecessary visits and make sure we are concentrating on those sites where there’s a risk.

“During a flood, every minute counts and we want to make sure that we are where we are needed to help reduce flood risk as quickly as possible.”

Cameras have been added to Cocker Beck, in Darlington, Trod Beck, in Wolsingham, Primrose Hill, in Bishop Auckland, and at several locations across Middlesbrough.

The added surveillance is hoped to reduce the risk of flooding faced by communities who share their outdoor space with the region’s rivers.

The project was also launched as part of the Environment Agency’s 2016 flood awareness campaign in a direct response to last year’s devastating floods.

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: “Flooding is an ever present risk and everyone has a part to play in protecting themselves.

“Simple actions such as moving possessions upstairs before a flood can save an average of £6,000 in damages, so the notice that a flood warning can give is really important.”

For more information on flood warnings, visit gov.uk/check-flood-risk