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Times & Star

West Cumbrian flood defences on hold because there is no cash

COCKERMOUTH’S flood defences will not be improved for at least three years because there is no cash to pay for the work.

The Environment Agency will work on a business plan – including a £100,000 feasibility study this summer which will take between three and five years to complete.

At a meeting on Tuesday, agency spokesman Craig Cowperthwaite said: “We don’t have any more funding to carry out the groundwork. The timescale of the business plan cannot be speeded up until we have additional funding.”

This has left flood victims and the town’s flood action group furious.

Chairman Sue Cashmore, whose Gote Road home has been flooded three times, said: “The time frame is just too long and too risky because the same thing could happen again and we have nothing, no defences.

“We are trying to work closely with the agency, but it doesn’t mean we agree with all their policies.

“Like many people who have been affected I can’t even bring myself to buy any new furniture or to even unpack certain bits and pieces in case it happens again.”

She said the group would look at lobbying the Government directly for cash to pay for flood defences and quicker action to implement them.

Ms Cashmore added: “The group has already come up with the idea of creating a swale on land behind the Lakes Home Centre, which would channel some of the water straight across instead of it backing up, meaning there would only be a 16 per cent chance of an impact on the town.

“It is a feasible scheme and it would cost around £250,000 to implement. We are also looking at another couple of schemes which the town would benefit from but we need funding and the support of the Environment Agency to do this.”

Mr Cowperthwaite said: “It is about securing the right solutions for the town and we need to put a business case together to secure additional funding to carry out any of our ideas.”

The feasibility study will establish the current level of flood protection and determine if a full flood alleviation scheme could be justified based on technical and environmental grounds.

The business plan will investigate how to raise defences, make bypass channels, create upstream storage and aid property resilience and resistance.