A MULTI-MILLION defence system which will cut the risk of flooding to 200 homes and give better protection to a major Somerset road.

New Hydro-Brakes flow controls have been installed to control the flow of water in the brook, and a new flood channel has been created adjacent to the A39 near Cannington.

The new flood alleviation scheme was officially opened by the chairman of the Environment Agency Emma Howard Boyd on Wednesday.

The chance of flooding has been cut for 200 homes in Cannington thanks to a £4.5 million scheme funded by the Environment Agency, EDF, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset Rivers Authority, Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, Wessex Water and Cannington Parish Council.

To avoid a repeat of more than 40 homes and businesses flooded twice in November 2012, a new flood alleviation channel has been created after the old brook, built in 1984, was deemed unfit to cope with present and future flood flows. All the fish have since been moved.

Four culverts have been installed under the road and each on has the Hydro-Brake technology. These cone-shaped funnels accept large volumes of water, swirl it to reduce its speed, before releasing it.

By the time reseeding ends next month, more than 57,000 hours of work will have been put into the award-winning project.

Emma Howard Boyd, chairman of the Environment Agency, said: "From the recovery after the 2012 flood to the development of this scheme, it’s been great to see Cannington’s community and the Environment Agency working together in partnership.

"To better protect over 200 properties in Cannington, 45,000 cubic metres of earth was moved. This uncovered some fascinating archaeological discoveries about the history of flooding in Cannington, dating back to the Roman period."

David Eccles, EDF Energy’s head of stakeholder engagement for Hinkley Point C, said: "Cannington residents have long suffered real issues from flooding so we were pleased to contribute £500,000 to support this vital flood defence scheme.

"The funding is part of our wider commitment to support local communities and services through agreements, worth almost £100 million, to build Hinkley Point C.

"Of that, some £865,000 has been specifically allocated for environmental schemes, including other flood defences in Bridgwater and Stolford."

Councillor Anne Fraser, Sedgemoor District Council’s portfolio holder for economic growth said: "I am delighted that this work has been completed. Not only will it save residents’ homes from potential future flooding but enable road users in the area to benefit from the scheme."

Archaeological findings during construction revealed that Cannington’s history with water problems extended further than first thought. Four skeletons were unearthed and the works revealed intensive activity dating back to the Roman period (AD43-AD410), including part of a square enclosure and human burials.

The first phase of Roman features was sealed by alluvial layers, which strongly suggests that the area was flooded in the Roman period.