River Ribble
The River Ribble will see a significant investment in flood protection. Photo by Chris Shaw.

Preston and Cumbria secure flood protection cash

Flood defences schemes in Preston, Kendal, Egremont, and Flimby have secured part of a £60m Government funding pot.

A scheme to protect Preston and South Ribble is the biggest beneficiary from the Government, winning £15.8m of funding.

This is expected to defend 3,600 homes and 300 businesses against flooding , and will replace existing flood barriers which were built at various points between the 1930s and 1980s. The project is expected to take five years to complete.

In Kendal, where a three-phase scheme by the Environment Agency will protect 1,480 homes and 1,151 businesses from flooding, the Government has set aside £5m, while elsewhere in Cumbria, schemes in Egremont and Flimby have secured £1.5m and £400,000 respectively.

Other regions to benefit from the pot outside the North West include Calderdale, where the Government has set aside £11m towards flood protection in Hebden Bridge and a further £3m in Mytholmroyd.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “I am delighted to announce over £60m of additional funding to better protect communities which are vulnerable to flooding, particularly across parts of northern England.

“Events this summer have shown that investing in flood risk management is more important than ever, and this funding builds on our long-standing £2.6bn commitment to better protect 300,000 homes from flooding and coastal erosion over six years.”

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I hope a large proportion of this money will be directed to changing upland land use but I fear it’ll be more or less business as usual. The common theme is that these watersheds originate in the Pennines or the Lake District, much of which continue to be over-grazed by sheep or drained and rotationally burned for grouse shooting. Not only do these land uses provide very limited employment and economic opportunities over the relatively vast landscapes that they cover, but they actually exacerbate the flood risk by reducing intercepting vegetation and stopping wetlands from functioning properly. Our burned and sheep-ravaged northern national parks should be like ‘sponges’ re water storage, and alive with wildlife in a mosaic of woodland, scrub, bogs and heath. Landscape scale restoration would provide additional income through recreation, tourism as well as alleviating the ongoing flooding issues (which climate change will make worse) & saving downstream communities and insurers money.

By Upland Change

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