A pair of beavers are heading to a new home in a picturesque Essex village in a move which will see the species return to the county for the first time in 400 years.

It is hoped the Eurasian Beavers will improve diversity and help prevent flooding at Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield.

The Environment Agency has worked with the estate, the Essex & Suffolk Rivers Trust and Essex Wildlife Trust to set up the project.

The beavers will have a territory covering four hectares, with plenty of trees to get their teeth stuck into and a boundary fence helping to keep them safe.

The Eurasian Beavers had been hunted to near-extinction for its meat, fur and scent glands by the beginning of the 16th century.

They have not been found in Essex since they were hunted to the point of extinction.

Since 2001 the species has been reintroduced to Scotland and earlier this year a pair were placed in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

A man-made flood management scheme will also be introduced at Finchingfield Brook.

How nature and man fare against each other will be captured in a documentary series, due to be screened next year.

It will be overseen by renowned wildlife filmmaker Russell Savory for independent film company Copper Productions.

Spains Hall Estate owner Archie Ruggles-Brise said: “We have experienced first-hand the disruption caused by flooding in Finchingfield so we are excited to be able to contribute to this novel approach to reducing flood risk, an undeniable public good.

“The added attraction of being able to pit nature against man to see who 'does it better' will be a rare chance to learn and adapt our approach.

“We hope the project will also focus a spotlight on our little corner of rural North West Essex, a hidden gem normally only enjoyed by those in the know."

Matt Butcher, from the Environment Agency, said it was a "pioneering" project for East Anglia.

He said: “Introducing leaky dams along Finchingfield Brook should slow the flow and reduce flood peaks downstream whilst improving habitat in this fantastic landscape.

“The beavers bring another exciting dimension, as we can assess how effective they are at creating amazing new wetlands and as flood engineers.”

Essex County Councillor Simon Walsh added: " Beavers are renowned for felling trees and building dams and to use them for natural flood management is really exiting, as not only are more properties protected from flood risk, but animals once lost to the British countryside are being re-introduced in lowland Britain."