A major engineering project which protects thousands of Morpeth residents from flooding has scooped a prestigious national award.

The Morpeth Flood Alleviation Scheme was named Project of the Year in this year’s ‘Constructing Excellence Awards’ which recognise the very best companies, collaborations and projects , sharing best practice and inspiring others to adopt new and better ways of working that deliver outstanding results.

The £26m scheme, which opened last year, includes upstream storage and urban flood defences and is thought to have prevented hundreds of properties from flooding last winter when the dam operated for the first time.

It is the first time a major scheme to reduce the risk of flooding to homes and businesses has been jointly funded and delivered by the Environment Agency and a local council in the region.

The scheme – the largest flood protection project in the north east – included £12million funding from Northumberland County Council.

Northumberland County Council Cabinet member for Local Services Councillor Ian Swithenbank said: “This was a great example of agencies working together on a hugely ambitious engineering project.

“The real key to this scheme has been the work with the community, and their input and engagement has been absolutely invaluable. The fact the scheme has already been called into action shows its value to Morpeth residents.

“We’re delighted the scheme has won this prestigious award.”

Phil Welton, from the Environment Agency in the North East, added: “To be recognised by Constructing Excellence as the best Civil Engineering Project in the country is a fantastic endorsement of the hard work that the partners put into creating the very best scheme possible for Morpeth.

“The judges commented that the close working relationship between the partners and with the community was key to delivering the project successfully.

“Not only does the scheme protect Morpeth from flooding, it blends into the character of the town and the community have been fully involved in the development of the solution.”

The flood scheme is designed to reduce the risk of flooding to 1,000 homes and businesses in Morpeth. It’s an innovative scheme which combines in town defences with an upstream storage area which has capacity to store 1.4million cubic metres of water – enough to fill 560 Olympic sized swimming pools.