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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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£840,000 project to improve Egremont estate flood defences

Relief is at hand for residents of Egremont’s Orgill estate whose homes suffered repeated flooding last year.

Egremont collapsed house photo
A house in Egremont collapsed

But it may be 2016 before they can sleep soundly in the knowledge that the flooding threat has been lifted.

An £840,000 Environment Agency scheme to contain Skirting Beck is among 93 flood prevention projects given funding by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

An initial £70,000 is earmarked to make a start in 2013-14 plus “indicative funding” of £70,000 for the following year and £700,000 for the bulk of the work in 2015-16.

Egremont made national headlines in August when part of Mill House collapsed into the River Ehen. But Orgill has borne the brunt of the problem. Sally Bennett, 35, of Dryden Way, has been flooded seven times since August.

Speaking at a flood drop-in session organised by Copeland council, she said: “I’ve lived there since 2003 and have been flooded every two years but last year was much worse.

“Normally, the water just comes in the hallway but when we had the torrential rain in August it went right through the house, up to 6in deep. It was coming in the front door and out the back.”

Mrs Bennett has spent almost £2,000 to make good the damage.

She added: “I’ve got insurance but haven’t claimed because if I did it would devalue my house. I’ve tiled right through so every time it floods it’s easy to wipe clean.

“And I only have rugs down, not carpets, so we can lift them when the water comes in.”

Out of 22 homes in Dryden Way, 13 were flooded at least once last year.

Nationally, the Government is spending £294 million on flood defence schemes to protect 64,000 homes.

Sally Sudworth, the Environment Agency’s regional flood executive, said: “The funding will bring huge relief to thousands of families and business owners at risk of flooding in the north west.

“The weather we have experienced this summer highlights the growing importance of flood-risk management.”

Elsewhere in Cumbria, there is £1.3m towards a £1.6m flood-prevention scheme in Ulverston and £240,000 for a controversial scheme affecting the Solway plain.

Here the Environment Agency is proposing to switch off drainage pumps to save on maintenance.

Farmers believe this could lead to hundreds of acres of prime land being waterlogged.

The agency will investigate the impact of its plan and may refurbish the pumps, which date from the 1970s, then hand them over to an independent drainage board that would continue to operate them.

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