Phase one of work to protect 300 homes in Romsey has been successful, say the Environment Agency.

Mike O’Neill, the agency’s operations manager for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, said the sandbag defences put in place in the Rivermeads, Riverside Gardens and Mill Lane area of the town over the weekend had held back the water.

Mr O’Neill said troops, council workers, firefighters and EA staff were putting the finishing touches to the defences this morning before phase 2 of the operation begins.

Later this morning a portable sluice, constructed by the military from scaffolding boards and sandbags, will be lowered into the Fishlake to restrict its flow.

Mr O’Neill said this will allow water to spill out onto water meadows to the west of the town protecting properties down stream.

“This should stop the river over-topping and running down Greatbridge Road,” he said.

Restricting the flow should also prevent the banks of the Fishlake eroding, added Mr O’Neil.

He said that this would also stop the waters rising in Budds Lane, where homes and business had already been evacuated.