UK's first self-closing flood barriers in Cockermouth

The UK's first self-closing flood barriers have been installed to protect a Lake District town hit by devastating flooding, the Environment Agency has said.

The £4.4 million scheme has been put in place in Cockermouth, Cumbria, to avoid a repeat of the flooding that hit the town in 2009 when a month's rain fell in 24 hours.

The widespread floods destroyed 900 homes and forced hundreds of people to evacuate.

Cockermouth High Street in Cumbria after torrential rain caused rivers to burst their banks in 2009 Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The scheme, which officially opens today, has been designed to be unobtrusive so that it protects Cockermouth's Georgian heritage and the experience for visitors.

It includes a 120m-long self-closing barrier which rises only when the river is in flood, preserving views of the river the rest of year.

The Environment Agency said the scheme will protect 400 homes and businesses.