Self-raising flood gates and defences made of glass to conserve spectacular views are among a series of innovative projects being funded to reduce flooding, the Environment Agency said.
Floods are now the number one natural hazard facing the UK, and climate change means more homes will be at risk of flooding, the agency said.
But simply building bigger walls to protect homes and businesses is not the answer, the EA warned as it highlighted alternative measures to help prevent flooding.
In Cockermouth, Cumbria, which flooded in 2009, the first self-raising flood gates are being installed, which use the power of flood water to lift the barrier and hold it up. The gates will fall as the water recedes.
In nearby Keswick, which was also flooded in 2009, a new glass defence has been built to protect the town while preserving its views of the river and Lake District hills, which a concrete barrier would have obscured.
In Belford, Northumberland, which suffers frequent flooding when rain runs off nearby farmland, ponds have been installed which store flood water and woodland planted to slow the flow of water, as a cheap and effective way of reducing floods.
Environment Agency head of strategy and investment Pete Fox said: “We cannot prevent flooding entirely and so it is vitally important that people protect themselves from flooding by finding out if they are at risk, and signing up to free flood warnings.”