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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Campaigners to continue flood cash fight for Cumbria

Campaigners will continue their fight to protect Cumbrian communities from flooding.

Keswick Flood Action Group photo
Lynne Jones

Members of Keswick Flood Action Group say they will keep battling for future funding for defence schemes.

The rallying cry comes after the county’s hopes of securing cash for more flood defence projects were sunk.

None of Cumbria County Council’s 10 proposals for surface water management schemes were approved for a share of £344m of government money.

Eight of the projects were for flood defences and two were to protect properties.

However, the county has secured more than £2m for five other schemes.

The cash will be spent on Gategill Beck at Threlkeld, Barepot in Workington, Skirting Beck in Ulverston, and Lyth Valley.

The rest will go toward restoration work on the rivers Kent, Derwent and Eden.

More than £1m has also been granted for a pumping station at Elliot Park in Keswick, design work for an upland storage scheme at Ambleside Road in Keswick, and design work for proposals at Orgill Estate in Egremont.

And more than half of the cash will be spent on various river works and investigation by the Environment Agency.

Lynne Jones, vice chairman of the Keswick Flood Action Group, was delighted to have secured the money but insists the fight for more protection will go on. She said: “We have been campaigning for eight years and acting as a go-between for cash-strapped councils and communities devastated by flooding, so it hasn’t been easy.

“But we will continue to battle for the Penrith Road project in Keswick and hope there will be more money in future.”

She also expressed the group’s gratitude to the Environment Agency and the county council for their work on surface water flooding solutions.

Cumbria County Council admits it is disappointed to miss out on the Government cash, but will also continue trying to secure future flood defence funding. Keith Little, cabinet member responsible for flood protection, said it was right that efforts are currently concentrated on helping communities devastated by recent floods in the south west.

But he added: “There are still communities in Cumbria who would be at risk if the weather event happened to be over this county next time – so Cumbria's case still needs to be considered.

"It’s disappointing that schemes that we thought would have a good chance of securing funding this year will have to be deferred for at least another year, although we appreciate that Cumbria has benefitted from £55m of investment in flood defences over the last 10 years.”

Mr Little said the Environment Agency’s commitment to keep funding other ongoing projects in the north west has pushed Cumbria down the league table.

He added though that the fact the county’s schemes scored highly enough in other funding rounds provides hope that they can win next year.

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