Christmas trees could soon line the banks of rivers, streams and becks across Cumbria - in a bid to tackle the county's flooding problem.

A project, trialled by the Environment Agency, has seen discarded spruces and conifers planted along the banks of the Rivers Derwent, Glenderamackin and Marron.

It has now been expanded to Chapel Beck, just south of Bassenthwaite Lake, as the agency continues to find ways in which it can protect people and properties from future flooding.

The Environment Agency says the scheme has a number of benefits, including helping to stabilise river banks and reduce erosion, while also creating a better habitat for fish.

"It's one of about 30 different projects that are taking place," Mike Farrell, fisheries project officer at the Environment Agency told the News & Star .

"The scheme is running on different rivers in Cumbria and we've also got some in Cheshire as well."

Logs donated by the Forestry Commission have been placed along the banks of each river, with trees - some of which were cut for use as Christmas trees - attached to them.

"They help to stabilise the river banks," Mike added. "We put a log down and then a spruce can be attached to that log. Using Christmas trees is just one part of the plan.

"Planting the tree there also helps to catch silt and sediment before it travels further downstream as well."

Sediment in rivers is known to smother fish eggs, which then prevents them from hatching.

Aside from Christmas trees, the Environment Agency is also using others that have been supplied by the Forestry Commission. The trees being used at Chapel Beck have come from Thirlmere.

"Some of the conifers come from SSSIs (sites of special scientific interest) where there's heather that they're trying to protect," Mike added.

The Environment Agency says that softer engineering methods - including planting Christmas trees along river banks - are "much better for wildlife and much cheaper" than heavy engineering techniques such as sheet piling or using gabions - steel baskets filled with stone.

Residents in Carlisle previously expressed concern that a build up of debris in rivers in the city have contributed towards flooding, with one example being Botcherby Bridge, which has been described as a bottleneck.

Mike said: "The trees will prevent the amount of silt and sediment in the river.

"The build-up means that there's less room for water, so by keeping the silt and sediment away, that shouldn't be a problem."

He also said that one in six properties in England is at risk of flooding and is urging people to take appropriate steps to ensure that they are kept up-to-date.

"We would ask that people visit the Environment Agency website and sign up for the free alerts and warnings." he said.