WORK on a new £4m scheme to prevent flooding in a village near Carlisle has begun.

The Rickerby Flood Alleviation Scheme - which involves re-routing a footpath and a road - is designed to protect 33 homes and one business in the village.

Rickerby has only a limited level of flood defence - despite its proximity to the River Eden.

Archaeological investigation work started this month - this is required because of the scheme's close location to Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.

The work should take nine months to complete but is weather dependent.

The new scheme includes:

n approximately 400m of new flood defence walls;

n 100m of raised flood embankment along Brunstock Beck

n and a new alignment to Rickerby Park Road to prevent Brunstock Beck flowing along the road into the village.

The flood wall will range in height from 1m to 3m and will be clad in brick, to match the local environment. The road realignment will incorporate the cycleway and footpath that currently exists.

Stuart Mounsey, the Environment Agency’s flood and coastal risk manager for Cumbria, said: “The community of Rickerby was severely impacted by flooding during the winter of 2015.

"I’m pleased that after close consultation with both the Cumbria County Council and Carlisle City Councils that we are now able to commence construction works on what will prove to be significant flood defence scheme for the residents of this community.

"The Rickerby Flood Risk Management Scheme is an important part of our investment across the city of Carlisle to improve our resilience to the devastating impacts of flooding.

"The ancient monument inspector has stated that the works will not adversely affect the heritage of Hadrian’s Wall. The scheme has received planning approval to re-route Hadrian’s Wall path and we are undertaking an archaeological investigation along this route to ensure any items of interest are recorded."

John Kelsall, from the Carlisle Flood Action Group, welcomed the scheme but also raised some concerns.

He said: "Rickerby residents were left out after the 2005 floods and so the raised defences to the south inevitably made the north residences like Rickerby and Linstock more vulnerable.

"Raising flood defences will not significantly alleviate flood risk as there remains the latent possibility of failure/poor design as occurred after 2005 so any reliance has to be significantly linked with caution.

"The defence raising and extending are a short term solution but we need to change the nature of re-development in these areas to make, principally, housing, commercial outlets, education sites and infrastructure completely permeable to allow the conveyance of the river through when it is doing its worst. "This means the town planning system needs to change radically and government need to seriously consider an enabling compensation scheme to improve prospects over the decades ahead.

"This is not a quick fix and someone is going to have to keep their finger in the embankment for a while yet."

And city councillor Paul Nedved, for Stanwix and Houghton, said: "An immense amount of consultation has gone on between the Environment Agency, partner and residents over this scheme and I think the residents will be relieved to finally see something happening.

"Rickerby, Warwick Bridge and Low Crosby really took a pounding in the floods of 2015.

"It will give them peace of mind as we move into another winter. It is part of a wider scheme to offer reassurance to residents and businesses in Carlisle."