A MULTI-MILLION pound scheme to end flood misery in Ross-on-Wye is taking shape.

Under the £6 million proposals from Herefordshire Council, the threat posed by Rudhall Brook and Checkley Brook would be severely reduced by a new tunnel in the town centre and the creation of a flood storage area for excess water.

Digging an underground passageway from Five Ways to Homs Road forms the central part of the scheme to transporting water across the town and into the River Wye.

The tunnel would help alleviate the culvert in Greytree Road that has become overloaded in recent years and was one of the principal reasons behind the chaos and disruption in Ross in December 2000.

An area of open countryside to the east of the A40, between Hildersley roundabout and the Ross spur, also forms part of the plan.

The council-owned land would be used to hold floodwater if the scenes of the year 2000 looked like being repeated.

"The success of the scheme depends on us receiving funding from DEFRA," said Stephen Oates, head of engineering and transportation at Herefordshire Council.

"Before DEFRA can give us the grant, we need to have planning permission for the scheme and that is why we are making the application now.

"If it all goes well, I would like to think work on the year-long project would be underway by the spring of 2006."

Mr Oates also hoped disruption would be kept to a minimum while constructors built the culvert.

"Shafts would be dug in the car park off Millpond Street and on land off Homs Road, and we would then join the two up," he explained.

"Consequently, the town's main streets would be unaffected and traffic and business could continue as normal."