ENOUGH material to fill 74 Olympic-sized swimming pools has been removed from the bends of a Moray river.
The work – part of the £45 million Forres, Findhorn and Pilmuir flood alleviation scheme – has created extra space for water when the river swells in spate.
A key part is the removal of 185,000 cubic metres of material from three of the river bends has been completed five months ahead of schedule.
This means that the risk of flooding to homes and businesses in and around Forres is already being reduced.
The scheme as a whole continues to progress more quickly than expected thanks to long periods of favourable weather since its start in September 2012.
Throughout 2014, work will continue on the flood embankments and Pilmuir drainage channels and the A96 should be returned to its original route by April, a month ahead of schedule and well before the increased traffic from tourist season impacts.
Project manager Barbara Hellett said: "The flood alleviation works are designed to provide a 1-in-200 year standard of protection.
"This means that, once complete, homes and businesses in Forres can expect to be protected from a pretty extreme flood event for many years to come.
"A 1-in-200 year flood event statistically has only a 0.5% chance of occurring in any one year. We currently anticipate reaching this standard of protection by November 2014."
Chairman of Moray Council’s flood alleviation sub-committee, Councillor George Alexander, welcomed the progress.
"It is certainly excellent news that Forres is already better protected from flooding," he said.
"I’m sure we can all be grateful for this, particularly given the dreadful flooding being experienced in England.
"Barbara and her team are to be congratulated on the progress of the project, and the fact that it is currently coming in well under budget."
Funding for the scheme, which is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2015, has come from Moray Council and the Scottish Government.