SANDBAGS are “completely ineffective” in floods and are only deployed to reassure people that councils are doing something, a businessman has said.

The claim comes from Simon Phelps, 30-year-old founder of Fluvial Innovations, who invented the Floodstop barrier as part of a project for Bournemouth University.

He said: “Sandbags were used during the summer floods of 2007 as they are now. They didn’t work then and they have never been effective at flood prevention. Sandbags are deployed to put people’s minds at rest that councils are doing something, when in truth their expensive, slow to assemble and completely ineffective at dealing with floodwaters.”

He said his Floodstop barrier was “low cost and far more effective than sandbags”.

He added: “The barrier can be rapidly deployed by one person. It doesn’t need to be bolted to the ground and the units are simply connected using slide-in keys. The barrier is reusable and it works, unlike sandbags.

“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.”

The Floodstop barriers fill with the rising floodwater, weighing them down.

“The beauty of this system is that when flood waters eventually recede, the barrier becomes light enough to be taken away by one person,” Mr Phelps added.

Mr Phelps developed the idea after watching a TV programme about the Lewes and Uckfield floods of 2000. It showed that more than 500 properties flooded because sandbagging methods failed.

Mr Phelps has been working alongside Bournemouth University since he graduated in 2005 and his product has been bought by homeowners in the UK and USA.

The Environment Agency, several local authorities and businesses are among his customers.

The Emergency Planning Society voted Floodstop as the most innovative product of 2009 and it won the Best Climate Ready Initiative title in Climate Week 2013.