A FLOOD barrier system which was devised as an alternative to sandbags has earned the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

Poole-based Fluvial Innovations has been revealed as a winner of the award in the innovation category for its Floodstop system.

Simon Phelps, the company’s founder and director, conceived Floodstop while doing a degree in computer-aided product design at Bournemouth University.

The system was intended as a reusable alternative to sandbags, which can be rapidly assembled by one person.

It consists of a series of interlocking plastic units which self-fill with flood water. The units are connected with interlocking keys and the weight of the water secures them to the ground so they can withstand water flow. When the water subsides, the barrier becomes light enough to be taken away by one person.

Mr Phelps said: “We are delighted to be awarded such an incredible and highly esteemed award. This is a huge achievement for Fluvial Innovations.

“We are proud not only of our commercial success but also in knowing that we are providing a solution to the enormous misery, disruption and cost resulting from flooding.”

Mr Phelps became aware of the need for a rapidly-deployable barrier after watching a TV programme about the Lewes and Uckfield floods of 2000. Many homes were devastated because sandbags proved ineffective.

On graduating in 2005, he initially worked alongside the university to commercialise the patented technology and also spent six months studying entrepreneurship in the USA through the Kauffman Global Scholars programme.

He told the Daily Echo in 2007: “Householders and local authorities are wasting a large amount of money on sandbags that are prone to leakage, slow to assemble and can only be used once.”

Floodstop, launched in 2008, has been sold throughout the world, protecting private homes, businesses, government bodies and infrastructure. Clients include nuclear sites, San Francisco utilities, the UK Environment Agency, Coca Cola, Warsaw Metro, the National Trust and the RAF.