AN iconic monument commemorating the Duke of Wellington's victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo has received a £500,000 boost to preserve it.

The partnership funding to restore the National Trust's Wellington Monument has been secured from Highways England.

The cash will go towards the £2 million fundraising target to help safeguard the future of the cultural landscape, which is visible from the M5 and is the tallest three-sided monument in the world.

Vinita Hill, Highways England designated funds director, said: "Highways England is delighted to be partnering with the National Trust and Historic England to protect and restore the Wellington Monument.

"This work will ensure the preservation of the monument and will allow visitors to safely climb to the top once again.

"Speaking to M5 road users and local residents we know the monument is seen as a gateway landmark which signifies entry to the South West and provides a reminder of place and community.

"We have used a cultural heritage fund through our designated funds programme which was developed so that we could invest in projects beyond our traditional road build and maintenance.

"It's important that we recognise the value of landmarks such as Wellington Monument and invest in their preservation."

The announcement was made by National Trust chairman Tim Parker at an event for the charity's supporters at Apsley House (Number 1 London), the home of the first Duke of Wellington, now looked after by English Heritage.

National Trust project manager Helen Sharp said: "There’s still another £1.2million to raise, but this is a big step towards our target, and to be able to announce this in the home of the first Duke of Wellington, 201 years since work began on the monument feels very fitting."

The monument has been fenced off for the past ten years and is in urgent need of repair. If the full fundraising total is met, the monument will be opened to the public once more.

Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow said: "The monument is very important to the local community and I am delighted that Highways England and National Trust are working in partnership to protect it.

"I’ve campaigned and supported this project from day one, helping to secure the initial £1 million from the Libor Fund and this announcement represents a huge step towards being able to complete the conservation work planned at the monument."

Work on Wellington Monument is due to start in summer 2019, beginning at the top of the monument to correct the most at-risk sections, and progressing down the monument as far as funding allows.