PREPARATIONS have begun to protect more than 870 homes against future flooding.

Several trees have been felled as part of the preparatory work to make way for the £46 million flood defence scheme in Radcliffe and Redvales.

Diggers have moved in at Close Park and a number of workers have been seen at the site.

Warning signs have been installed at either end of the park.

The Environment Agency (EA) previously announced that 370 trees, including saplings, would need to be chopped down to enable the first phase of the project to go ahead.

However, the EA also said it intends to plant five trees for every one that is felled, introducing some 1,850 new trees to the park and surrounding area.

Radcliffe and Redvales were among the worst hit when the River Irwell burst its banks on Boxing Day 2015.

Colette Jones, chairwoman of Radcliffe and Redvales Flood Action Group, said: “We are relieved to see that work has finally started.

"It is sad that some trees have had to come down to enable the work to go ahead but thankfully most of the trees being removed are old and diseased and it is good to know they will all be replaced."

Joyce Walkden said: "I understand people's alarm at the trees coming down but the peace of mind that these defences will bring more than 600 families is more important.

"The replanting of mature trees is going to more than compensate.

"It is major progress to see workers arrive at the site."