WORK has begun on a £1.5m county council project aimed at reducing the risk of flooding in Haltwhistle.

The long-awaited scheme will improve the flow of water through the Hemmel Burn as it passes through and under Haltwhistle, cutting the risk of flooding in the town for years to come.

The current system is in poor condition and struggles to cope with the amount of water flowing through it during and after heavy rainfall.

A number of floods have occurred in the town in recent years when the burn has failed to cope with the flow of water.

Designers have been working on the technically challenging project since 2017, with the shallow depth of the pipe and the close proximity to a number of homes proving problematic.

However, once the scheme is complete, it will significantly reduce the flood risk for 39 homes.

Balfour Beatty began construction work on the project on Monday and contractors are aiming to complete the project by Christmas.

Coun. Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services at Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a major project for the town which has been many months in the planning due to the technical nature of the work.

“We always aim to keep disruption to a minimum while the works are taking place and apologise in advance for any inconvenience that this work might cause.”

Residents of Haltwhistle were invited to a drop-in session last Wednesday, to find out more about the proposals and how the work would be managed in the town.

Martin Stark, who volunteers as a flood warden for the town, was positive about the plans. He said: “It’s just great news for the town that the work is finally going to get started.

“They did some work last year, and if they hadn’t done that, they would have been out all Christmas Day pumping water away from the houses, which is not what you want to do.

“There’s bound to be some disruption, but it’s a small price to pay.”