A SOD-cutting event was held in Bewdley to mark the start of construction of new permanent flood defences.

The work is set to take between 18 months and two years to complete and will help protect homes and businesses on Beales Corner. 

To celebrate the official start of work on the scheme, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow visited the town and announced that the project will receive an additional £1.5 million in funding.

Speaking in the town earlier today (September 7), the minister said: "This isn't just about the houses - it's about the whole town. Because I've seen it when the roads shut and people can't come in and out. I know the impact on business.

"This new defence on the river here will protect 50 properties but it actually will maintain access to some 160 local businesses.

"The scheme is forecast to cost about £9.8m as of now - a potential total budget of up to £12m if you include risks and things that occur".

"I know it will be a bit tricky in the next 18 months as this develops, but I do know that you will see the riches and the benefits of this scheme once it's all up and running".

Beales Corner has experienced three consecutive years of flooding in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Irene Buxton, who is a Beales Corner resident, said: "I'm really pleased, I'm really excited. It's been a long journey but we've got it in the end. I'm really glad it's happening".

Kidderminster Shuttle: Work has officially begun to install new flood defences at Beales CornerWork has officially begun to install new flood defences at Beales Corner (Image: NQ)

Lindsay Wilson, who founded the Bewdley Flood Defence Committee 11 years ago with Mrs Buxton, said: "I didn't think this day would ever come, but it's here. It's fantastic".

Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier said: "What we've been doing for Wribbenhall has been not good enough for a long long time.

"Every time you put up the temporary barriers there was always a risk they were going to break away. They've broken away on two occasions which was bad news. And it blocks the town up so you lose all the trading.

"What we are presenting here is a long-lasting solution.

"We could potentially even take advantage of this and have flood tourism, where people can come along and see floods, but actually in safety, and while they are here they can shop in the town”.

He also added that there's going to be a "little bit of pain more to come" for traders in Bewdley whilst works are carried out.

"It is going to affect the traders, it is going to be difficult for them," he said.

"But it's a bit like having an injection to stop you getting mumps. The injection's pretty unpleasant but the mumps is a lot worse. 

"I think we are in a good place for the long term".

Councillor Emily Bourne, deputy mayor of Bewdley, added: "Bewdley is still open for business so please ensure you still keep visiting us and buying local while the works continue".