COUNCILLORS have backed the government’s decision to invest a further £1.4m into flood defence schemes in the district.

The cash injection will boost Environment Agency schemes which are in the pipeline for both Hexham and Ponteland, to protect homes and businesses from the devastation of flooding.

The funding is part of a £170m initiative announced by the Government to accelerate flood schemes across the country, to protect communities from the flood risk posed by climate change.

It means the agency’s scheme for Hexham, announced last year, will receive a £1m boost towards its estimated total cost of £4.1m

It will aim to reduce the risk of flooding from the River Tyne to the town’s Bridge End and Tyne Mills industrial estates. Both sites suffered significant flood damage as Storm Desmond wreaked havoc in December, 2015.

It will also reduce the risk of flooding to up to 90 residential and non-residential properties, and safeguard infrastructure including sewage treatment works, a sewage pumping station, main electrical sub-stations, and a council depot.

Meanwhile, Ponteland is at risk of flooding from the River Pont and Fairney Burn, and has previously suffered localised surface water flooding.

The Ponteland scheme has been allocated an additional £450,000 towards the £3m total cost of a scheme which will protect 279 homes.

County councillor for Corbridge, Coun. Nick Oliver, is Northumberland’s member on the Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. He said: “I welcome the extra funding from the Government. This is an important scheme which will protect industrial sites in Hexham, and other areas further downstream.

Coun. Trevor Cessford, who represents Hexham West on Northumberland County Council, and is also a member of Hexham Town Council, said: “We welcome that flood protection in Hexham is seen as a key regional priority. Many local jobs depend upon the businesses based on our industrial estates.”

County councillor Cath Homer, who represents Hexham East, also backed the additional funding.

Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman was supportive of the scheme. He said: “After a long campaign and representations to Defra, we have secured extra funds from the government for these vital flood defences, which will make a real difference in Ponteland and Hexham.”