PEACE of mind was given to residents following the opening of a £6m flood protection scheme in St Asaph.

The scheme - designed to reduce the risk of flooding from the River Elwy to 293 homes and 121 businesses including schools, retirement homes, sheltered accommodation, the local library, doctor’s surgery and fire station - was officially opened last Thursday by Hannah Blythyn, minister for the environment. A plaque was also unveiled.

In November 27 2012, the River Elwy overtopped the existing defences affecting 320 properties.

Margaret Hughes, who lived in a retirement home near Mill Street, died in the floods. The 91-year-old, who was just over four foot tall due to a severe stoop, was found dead in her home on November 27 when floodwaters reached their peak - just two days before her 92nd birthday.

Following the flooding, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) commissioned an extensive study to fully investigate the flood risk; a scheme was designed to reduce flood risk.

Infrastructure and recreational benefits will include new and wider footpaths, improvements to the ancient City Bridge and the installation of an “i beacon” Bluetooth transmitter.

Ms Blythyn said: "We all remember the serious flooding here in 2012, so this is an important scheme for St Asaph. Those events remind us of the real threat we face from flooding, which is likely to increase as our climate changes."

"The scheme has been supported with £6 million from the Welsh Government. Earlier this year I also announced a £56m programme to strengthen Wales’ flood and coastal defences, helping build resilience in communities across Wales which face similar risks."

Cllr Colin Hardie, mayor of St Asaph, said: "November 2012 was very traumatic for everybody. Since then, there has been a lot of fear - we are always watching the weather forecasts.

"Now the work has been done we are extremely grateful. The contractors were extremely sympathetic to the demands of the residents and in turn, the residents have been very patient.

"Last Thursday was an important marker. For a minister to come here, it was nice to see.

"We have beautiful riverside walks which people can access. We get lots of visitors who come here just for the walks.

"We might have had to wait but the main thing is the scheme is in place and it even came in budget."

The project includes the installation of bird and bat boxes and the replacement of trees and hedges. NRW are planting more trees than were removed to build the scheme.

Ann Jones, Vale of Clwyd AM, said: "Whilst this section of the work has been completed which must bring much long awaited reassurances to those who were affected. There are still issues that need addressing and I continue to liaise with the minister to resolve these for the community”

Tim Jones, NRW’ executive director of operations for North Wales, added: "While we can’t always prevent flooding from happening, we have built a robust scheme for St Asaph that will significantly reduce the risk and provide effective, long-term peace of mind for people in the city."