WIRRAL families whose homes are in flood risk areas now have access to the most comprehensive mapping system pinpointing the prospective severity of flooding problems.

The Evironment Agency's online flood map will notify floodplain homeowners and bus-inesses across the northwest about the level of risk they face.

The vast majority of local properties at risk from flooding lie within the flood plain of North Wirral covering much of Leasowe and parts of Moreton. Around 2,200 homes have been identified and the Environment Agency plans to build a river-level monitoring site at David Road, Leasowe, to enable warnings to be issued when predefined triggers are met.

Jeff Lawrenson, Environment Agency regional flood-defence manager, said: "With the new flood map we hope to provide as much information as possible. This will help people to understand if they are at risk and what to do to prepare for flooding."

He went on: "We would enc-ourage everyone, particularly those living and working in areas prone to flooding, to use it. They should find out whether they, or their property, was at risk of flooding and decide what action they need to take - they should not leave it too late."

The new measures take into account how close the property is to rivers and the coast, as well as advising on flood defences in place. The new map will show people whether the chance of flooding in their locality is low, moderate or significant.

The initiative is part of a five-year mapping programme which will be updated every three months.

It will show the depth and speed of floodwater as it passes through affected areas.

The scheme will also map the predicted impact of climate change as well as identifying vulnerable groups in flood-prone areas.

The new mapping will help local authorities to make more informed planning decisions about flood risk areas and prevent new housing developments from being built in flood plains.

The flood map - advising on levels of risk and how to prepare for flooding - can be accessed on www.environment-agency.gov.uk