ENVIRONMENT Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed that beavers will be introduced in Lydbrook next Spring in a bid to help fight flooding.

The project, which was initially expected to have started in August this year, will see two adult beavers and two kits released into a 16 acre secure enclosure to help improve biodiversity and build dams and ponds.

The Government says it could be the first of many similar schemes to be introduced across England.

Mr Gove (pictured) said: "The beaver has a special place in English heritage and the Forest of Dean proposal is a fantastic opportunity to help bring this iconic species back to the countryside 400 years after it was driven to extinction.

"The community of Lydbrook has shown tremendous support for this proposal and the beavers are widely believed to be a welcome addition to local wildlife.?

"The project is an example of the wider approach we are taking to enhance biodiversity, become the first generation to leave the environment in a better state for future generations and deliver on our plans for a Green Brexit."

Scientists believe the beavers may be able to hold back enough water to help with flood alleviation for Lydbrook by quickly constructing natural dam structures and creating new habitat.

Kevin Stannard, Forestry Commission’s deputy surveyor for the Forest of Dean, said: "Our proposal to introduce captive beaver in to the Forest of Dean has strong backing from the local community and we are developing the project with the fantastic support from the Environment Secretary."

District councillor Chris McFarling, cabinet member for environment and wildlife welcomed the news.

He said: "Successful pilot studies suggest that beavers boost the local biodiversity, helping a greater number of plant, amphibian, fish, bird and invertebrate species flourish.

“Financially they are so much more cost effective than traditional flood defence works so it makes sense to use this great ‘value for money’ opportunity."