A PIONEERING river project prevented large parts of Peeblesshire being devastated by floods last weekend.

While the region endured some of its heaviest rainfall in living memory, the usually susceptible Eddleston Water and Cuddy contained the deluge.

And plaudits have been placed firmly at the dry feet of a flow-restriction and planting scheme that was completed two years ago.

Since the Eddleston Water was straightened by farmers and engineers almost 200 years it has become prone to flooding.

In recent years it has wiped out entire fields of crops as well as deluged properties all the way down the valley.

In Peebles many households along the Cuddy have also been damaged.

But throughout Saturday and Sunday the levels remained relatively low - only spilling onto pavements.

Ted Radford, who lives in Eddleston, was quick to praise the Tweed Forum scheme. He said: "Their study of the Eddleston Burn and remedial works carried out on it from Leadburn to Peebles were material to protecting the vulnerable properties from the threat of inundation Storm Desmond posed.

"I admit that I was initially sceptical as to the impact of these measures but their value was proven over last weekend."

The Eddleston Water, which is a main tributary of the upper Tweed, has been modified extensively over time.

Much of the main river was straightened in the 19th century and many of the native habitats were lost or reduced.

The changes resulted in increased run off and risk of flooding to Eddleston and Peebles, whilst also causing a reduction in the quality and quantity of habitat of native flora and fauna.

The natural flood management scheme was co-ordinated by the Tweed Forum. Director Luke Comins said: "This is just one part of a long-term effort to restore the river and its catchment and measure the effects this has on reducing flood risk.

"Working with farmers and land owners we have brought about out wide scale planting of native trees in the headwaters, built flow restrictors and log jams, created wetlands and improved river habitats, including re-meandering and enhancement of the main river."

Scientists from Dundee University, who were involved in the original project, took measurements last weekend during Storm Desmond.

And they confirmed that the water levels were much lower than a previous flood in 2012.

Scottish Borders Council has also been heavily involved in the project.

A spokesperson said: “A considerable amount of time and funding has been invested in restoring natural features to help slow down flood flows and increase water storage throughout the Eddleston catchment. These include re-meandering the river, creation of wetlands and extensive tree planting.

“While natural flood management can never replace hard defences in towns, it can help lessen the effects of flooding and increase resilience in the long term.

“It is too early to say what effect the new measures had on the flood, partly because some of the measures will take time to mature and make an impact.”