A MASSIVE £1m scheme to protect Ryde from flooding was officially opened this week.

More than 1,000 cubic metres of material was removed from beneath the Esplanade and more than 400 cubic metres of re-inforced concrete was used to create the pumping station at Monkton Mead.

The official opening ceremony for the project was attended by the Environment Agency Flood Defence Manager for Hampshire and the Island, Tim Kermode, as well as the leader of the Island's council, Councillor Shirley Smart.

Two enormous pumps imported from Germany will be housed in the huge underground chamber.

They will take away thousands of gallons of water from the town - helping to safeguard residents in Monkton Mead who have been plagued by a number of floods in recent years.

The pumps will be needed when tidal pressure reduces the amount of water that can flow out to sea via the flap gate on the new outfall - put in place to prevent flooding of the town by tide.

They are powerful enough to lift 1,500 litres of water per second to a height of nearly two metres.

The underground chamber has been constructed larger than is currently needed to allow for bigger pumps with double the capacity.

Larger pumps may be necessary in future, depending on the rate of sea level rise, frequency and severity of future rainfall and the development of the Ryde area.

A new outfall leading from the pumping station is 63 metres long. It has been faced with timber to encourage its colonisation by marine life and to soften its appearance.

Its upper surface has been covered with rounded pebbles, inset into the concrete, to deter pedestrians from walking on it. A clear walkway has been provided close to the seawall to enable access from one side to the other.

The new pump house on the Esplanade has been designed to blend in with the town's other Victorian buildings. It will also

provide a viewing platform for residents and visitors to view the extensive sand flats at low water and the many over-wintering seabirds.

Tim Kermode said: "The Strand area of Ryde has had a history of flooding since the estuary was reclaimed for building during the 1850s. We are delighted that this flood alleviation scheme has been completed.

"It will considerably reduce the risk of future flooding in the area."