A campaign group fighting for Carlisle flood victims has raised concerns over a new national report into December's devastating floods.

The Green Alliance yesterday published its examination of England's flood strategy, concluding it is "failing" and a new approach is urgently needed.

It had three conclusions:

*The UK farming support scheme that replaces the Common Agricultural Policy should reward land management that helps to prevent flooding.

*The establishment of a dedicated fund for natural flood management projects. The Government recently announced £15m funding for such work, which the alliance welcomed.

*Regional Catchment Management Boards are needed to consolidate decision-making powers related to flood risk in a single local body.

John Kelsall welcomed the report, but urged the authors to re-examine the cause of the the Cumbrian floods.

The chairman of Carlisle Flood Action Group told the News & Star : "The group welcomes all positive input from national organisations such as the Green Alliance.

"It is of paramount importance, at all levels of government, that there is a clear understanding of how flooding arises and how it can be mitigated and managed.

"We welcome the alliance’s thrust to bring UK farming closer into the flood debate. Any funding to trial such initiatives can only help if undertaken scientifically and the results seen in a ‘whole river system’ context."

He continued: "A whole catchment management authority to us is a ‘no-brainer’. A catchment must be managed throughout its length on a cooperative understanding of each community’s needs. It follows that this needs to be co-ordinated and led by a singular agency with a clear remit."

Mr Kelsall said the group's concerns lay with a potential reliance on natural flood management methods.

"Planting trees, creating bunds to hold back water and encouraging water retentive land are well known weapons in the anti-flood arsenal to ‘slow-the-flow’," he explained, "but these will take time to establish and are, sadly, not likely to address the issue on their own.

"We urge the alliance and others to read our evidenced findings which clearly show that lack of maintenance, probably from the 1950’s onwards is the principal cause of our plight here in Carlisle and probably similarly elsewhere in the UK."

Mr Kelsall claimed that as a result river channels have become choked, the available flood plains have been depleted and many bridges have become dams and therefore exerted unsafe pressures on them.