A PAIR of beavers are doing their bit to reduce flooding in a village following heavy rain.

Two Eurasian beavers were introduced at Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield last March to try to stem flooding in the area downstream.

Since then they have built so many dams that researchers have lost count.

Estate owner Archie Ruggles-Brise said “Since the project started, the beavers have built over 20 dams. We have lost count of exactly how many because they have created so many.

“The beavers are the first of their species to be exploring Essex in more than 400 years.

“Data collected tells us that at one of the dams there is at least half an Olympic-size swimming pool of water being held back.

“Just before Christmas when we saw quite a lot of water, everything stood up well.

“Previously in 2012 and 2014 Finchingfield has suffered from flooding during heavy rain.

“Whilst we can’t say for certain how much influence they are having and whether it is all down to the beavers, we can say that it looks like they are having an effect.

“Whether we would have had flooding without them is entirely impossible to say.”

The beavers are part of a five-year project at Spains Hall to reduce flooding.

Mr Ruggles-Brise said: “The woodland where they are living is now extremely wet and there is much more space for the water in the woodland than there would have been.

“For the last 12 months they have been going good. We are just going to continue to let the beavers do what they do and we will keep an eye on the man-made stuff.”

Environment Agency spokesman Matt Butcher said: “It is really quite a dramatic change we have seen in the last year since the beavers have been introduced.

“The amount of dams they have created is really impressive and we have noticed in heavy rain, before Christmas especially, that there was so much more water being held up and that reduced the amount of water running down into Finchingfield.

“We are going to continue to work with the land-owner to hopefully look into this further.

“This scheme was quite small, the next step is to look at what we can do on a larger scale.

“We are looking at how we can expand to benefit the environment and the village of Finchingfield.”

Mr Butcher added: “We are really pleased to be a partner in this project and we are working with Spains Hall Estate to look at what else we can do on a landscape scale to make further improvements to the environment whilst reducing flood risk.”