BOSSES from the Environment Agency have paused construction on the first phase of Carlisle's flood scheme because conditions are 'too wet'.

Since construction started back in July, the organisation said workers have encountered the wettest August and September in the last 30 years according to the Met Office.

Due to the weather, the agency says this has made working conditions for machinery and their teams on the ground difficult for both the in river works and embankment construction.

To date, the works have been focused in the Warwick Road area.

A spokesman from the firm said the decision to pause "has not been taken lightly", adding they "will consider it will be of greater benefit in the long run to pause rather than attempt to carry on through winter when we are likely to make little progress".

Much of their plant and equipment will be moved from Melbourne Park from the end of October and will return in 2020.

Despite workmen abandoning the site, bosses claim the change in the works timetable will not increase the flood risk to the local area.

In addition to this flood scheme, the spokesman added they have been preparing for the wetter winter period.

They said: "Our 2019 winter readiness plans remain unchanged and include: replacing flood gates at the Caldew Maltings; control panel repairs at Little Caldew pumping station; repairs to flood embankments at Willowholme and Parham Beck; repairs to Durranhill flood storage basin; as well as regularly removing blockages and debris that would have increased flood risk."

Stewart Mounsey, flood manager for Cumbria, said: ‘I would like to reassure people that pause doesn’t mean stop.

"We will be busy behind the scenes working with our designers and contractor to plan our works for an accelerated start in spring 2020.

"Although we won’t be building embankments in the winter the public may see some activity in the winter months that will be supporting the accelerated return.

"The pause does not affect the completion of our works which were originally planned for spring 2020 to enable the new defences to be built ahead of winter 2020.

"Pausing main construction works in winter 2019 will not affect our 2020 winter readiness or our ongoing preparations for delivery of Phases two and three."

Residents at risk of flooding are being urged to prepare in advance by going online to to sign up for free flood warnings.

Alternatively, call the Environment Agency Floodline on 0345 988 1188 for further information.