Floods Minister Therese Coffey has assured people in Carlisle that work to build new flood defences in the city will begin next year - as an extra £500,000 has been pledged to Cumbria by the Government.

The politician is in the county today to visit flood-hit Botcherby Community Centre in Carlisle as well as launching a conservation programme at the Lowther Estate, near Penrith. She'll also meet with residents affected by flooding.

Her visit comes two years on from Storm Desmond was saw 5,200 properties flooded across Cumbria and Lancashire.

Many people across the county, in particular in Carlisle, have been angered by the length of time it was taken for upgraded defences to come to fruition and have urged the authorities to act quicker.

However, Dr Coffey confirmed that work in Carlisle would start next year.

She said: “The devastating flood Cumbria faced flooding two years ago and that is why it’s important to me to visit this area in particular and hear the community’s stories first hand.

"Better protecting Cumbria from flooding continues to be a key priority and Carlisle’s new £24 million flood defence schemes will be the latest example of work taking place across the county.

“This scheme is one of many new defences planned for Cumbria – we are investing £72 million to better protect 4,300 homes and businesses by 2021.”

She added: "The money is there and the money is protected. I'm keen for the work to start as soon as possible."

Options for Carlisle’s new flood scheme drawn up by the Environment Agency are still in the consultation stage with the project estimated to take four years to complete.

In an interview with the

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she also said the Government had committed an extra £500,000 to help some smaller schemes across the county.

Since Storm Desmond, flood schemes in Appleby, Keswick, Ulverston and Threlkeld have been completed and £1m spent maintaining existing defences including 50km of walls and embankments across the county

While in the county the minister will also discuss plans for new local flood defences with Cumbria and Carlisle councils.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency is working hard to protect people in Cumbria from flooding.

"We understand the impact that flooding has had on people here and are working hard to build new defences to better protect 4,300 homes with the government’s £72 million investment.

"Since December 2015, we’ve completed new defences in Ulverston and Glenridding. New schemes in Kendal, Appleby, Egremont and Carlisle are progressing well as we work with communities to finalise the best options before construction work can begin.

“We are better prepared for flooding than ever before, with extra equipment, better technology and 6,500 trained staff ready to act. We have also extended our flood warning service in Cumbria so more people receive vital early warnings.”

Prior to her visit to Carlisle, Dr Coffey visited the Lowther Estate to meet the owner and plant one of the 213,000 trees that be put into the ground over 170 hectares of the estate this winter.

Thanks to Government funding, the recently-approved large-scale tree planting scheme will be one of the most productive woodland creation sites in England for more than 25 years.

The project is being funded through the Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant scheme, which opens again for new applications on Tuesday, January 2.