PICKERING'S 'Slowing the Flow' flood defence scheme was officially opened by environment secretary Elizabeth Truss this afternoon.

Ms Truss planted a tree to mark the completion of the project, which began in January 2014.

Methods such as ‘woody debris dams’ in becks and streams slow the flow, with 120,000 cubic metres of water able to he held in the flood storage area.

This will significantly improve the standard of protection for Pickering and reduce the 25 per cent chance of flooding to a four per cent chance or less a year.

A multi-agency project led by Forest Research, Slowing the Flow will help to better protect 50 houses in the town which are vulnerable to flooding.

Ms Truss said: "It is vital that we engage local communities in their environment.

"I am delighted to be here today to see this in action.

"We can use the evidence and the results that we get here in Pickering much more widely."