THE flood management scheme installed in the hills above Pickering reduced river peak flow by around 15-20 per cent during the December floods, according to new figures from the Environment Agency.

This provided protection for Pickering when a total of 50mm of rainfall fell over a 36-hour period over Christmas 2015.

The project, named "Slowing the Flow", combines upstream "flood storage" with a wide range of measures including tree planting, heather reseeding and over 300 leaky dams built in forests in the upper catchment.

Based on the extent of inflows to the flood storage area, the EA estimate that around half of the reduction was due to the upstream land management measures and half due to the flood storage area.

Jeremy Walker, ‘Slowing the Flow’ partnership chairman, said: “This analysis by our hydrologists confirms that some flooding was avoided, although the measures were not fully tested. The key finding for us is that they appear to be working as expected and reducing the peak flood flow by up to 20 per cent.

"This is good news for the town, although we need to remember that the measures installed have their limits and would not be enough to prevent flooding in the event of rainfall on the scale experienced for example in 2007.”

Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss said: “The pioneering Slow the Flow scheme uses nature in a truly innovative way to better protect the local community from the risk of flooding – this research shows planting trees and constructing woodland dams up stream, can make a real difference downstream."