A CARLISLE campaigner says “not enough has been done” to improve flood defences around the city since being badly affected by Storm Desmond.

John Kelsall, chairman of Carlisle Flood Action Group, told The Cumberland News how little has changed since the events, which occurred three years ago this week.

He said: “Since the group was formed in 2016, we have met with the Environment Agency and Cumbria County Council to discuss the way forward.

“It is clear there is no easy answer to the issue, and not much seems to be happening.

“Is enough being done? We don’t think so.

“We appreciate that work is going on behind the scenes, including planning and funding, but three years is a long time.

“The Environment Agency could have put up quick fix defences in emergency locations around the city - including Bitts Park, the Sands Centre, Hardwick Circus and Warwick Road - but so far, haven’t done so.

“Another solution, such as gravel being removed at Botcherby Bridge and on the A7 Eden Bridge, could have been done, but again, this hasn’t happened.”

John continued: “The river conveyance is restricted by bridges, the Eden Bridge has 10 arches when it opened, now it was about two or three.

“Since 1770, there have been 11 floods in Carlisle. However, the flood in 1815, which had levels just short of 2015, happened before the industrial revolution, and before human impact could affect the weather.”

John believes that one possible solution to address the situation is to look down stream.

“Works could be done further along the stream to keep the peak level down. This could help to prolong flooding from happening in Carlisle.

“If we stop the water rising by a metre, then Carlisle might not get flooded,” he claimed.

“Eden landowners are doing works to slow the water flow from the Solway.”

But John doesn’t feel convinced that the Environment Agency knows how to stop the levels rising.

“They know it is a good idea to slow the water flow, but they don’t know how to do it.”

Over the past few years, Carlisle Flood Action Group has worked with other flood groups across the county, and the groups have been lobbying MPs in Westminster for a case for flood defences.

As storm season rolls around once more, concerns have reignited that a future flood could bring further damage.

“Another flood could cause significant damage to the economy of Carlisle, and this could affect key areas of our road and rail network, including the M6, the North West mainline, and other key routes such as the A69 and the A595,” said John.

“If this were to happen, not only would it be bad for the economy of the city, but would cause widespread disruption for people trying to get into work, those having to take time off to sort out the flood damage to their homes, and not being able to look after their children or take them to school.”

However, another issue arising from John is that of the Government, and the money allocated to address the flooding.

“We shouldn’t be grateful that the Government are boosting funds to tackle floods,” he insisted.

“Of the 2,220 private properties across Carlisle, the repair cost for each home is £85,000 each, out of a fund of £176m for the city.

“Corporation Tax for the profits by companies behind the work to carry out the repairs cost £30m, including VAT.

“This is greater than the £25m in booster funding by Defra - the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

“The funding is agreed for each authority on a one-to-one basis, to justify that £1m is spent to save £1m in the future.

“But other areas across Cumbria have a greater case, having to justify between a £8m to £10m spend in future benefits.

“The Environment Agency have their hands tied by the Government’s policy of funding criteria.”