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Flood defence scheme bolstered

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Thousands of Surrey residents will get greater protection from flooding and possibly cheaper home insurance premiums following key restoration work on a flood defence system.

The Environment Agency shored up the Lower Mole Flood Alleviation Scheme after inspections last year revealed damage to a 30-metre section between Island Barn Sluice and the River Thames, near Molesey.

As part of the scheme's original design from the 1980s, a flood relief channel runs along the River Ember and is controlled by three large motorised weirs.

It was built in response to the floods of 1968 in areas of Surrey and south London, and currently offers protection to nearly 10,000 residential and commercial properties in Molesey, Esher and Hersham areas through raised embankments and flood walls.

Repairs at the site that suffered erosion began in September after the design was finalised between January and May this year.

Construction was completed last month, although some environmental enhancements will be carried out over the next few weeks.

Ian Mawdsley, the Environment Agency's Project Manager, said: "Doing nothing here was not an option as left in its current state the damaged area would have grown in size - compromising the Environment Agency's ability to operate and maintain the defences."

© Press Association 2010