THE CARLISLE Flood Management Scheme has finished a landmark stage of its project.

The Melbourne Park area section of the £25m programme will help protect more than 1,200 homes and 106 businesses.

The Environment Agency has now completed one of three phases across the city at a cost of £12m to date.

Work has been done following the aftermath of Storm Desmond on December 5 and 6, 2015, where river levels rose and flooded 2,100 properties.

It included raising, extending flood walls and improving the flow of water through Botcherby Bridge to allow a greater volume to pass.

The agency is also working to enhance wildlife habitats and park facilities in the area, including the planting of wildflower meadows next spring.

The habitat will primarily support native insects including butterflies, moths and bees, which help to pollinate food crops.

To mark the official opening of this part of the scheme the agency hosted a virtual ceremony on Wednesday attended by its chief executive, Sir James Bevan.

He said: “Throughout the year the Environment Agency has continued to increase the number of homes protected from the impact of floods by delivering schemes such as this one in Carlisle while following government guidance and safe working measures.

“The scheme will not only protect people and property but will create a better place for the community by providing an enhanced environment for wildlife to thrive.

“I am delighted to see the Melbourne Park stage of this important scheme come to fruition.”

Stewart Mounsey, Cumbria flood and coastal risk manager at the Environment Agency said: “The community of Carlisle have seen first-hand how devastating flooding can be.

“That’s why I’m so pleased to see the Melbourne Park stage of this much anticipated and vital scheme reach completion.

“This new £12m investment will better protect homes and businesses and is an example of how we work with partners to make communities more resilient.

“The Carlisle scheme will have one of the highest standard of protection in the country.

"Whilst we can never guarantee that there will not be future flooding, we hope that this scheme will bring peace of mind to the public.”

When all three phases of the project are complete it will offer greater protection to more than 2,100 homes.