Improved Carlisle flood defences not in place for two winters

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The Rickerby Park area of Carlisle during the floods
The Rickerby Park area of Carlisle during the floods

FLOOD-HIT households in Carlisle may have to endure another two – possibly three – winters before improved flood defences are in place.

And while these defences should reduce the likelihood of a repeat of the devastation caused by Storm Desmond in December, the Environment Agency (EA) says there can be no guarantees that the city will not suffer another catastrophic flood.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Budget last week that he was making up to £25 million available to improve the city’s flood defences.

But Andy Brown, flood and coastal risk manager for the EA in Cumbria and Lancashire, says there can be no quick fix.

He said: “When you are talking about investments of tens of millions of pounds it takes time. It won’t be as quick as people would like.

“People would like flood defences in place for next winter but it is important that we take our time and deliver the right thing in the right place.

“It is tempting to rush and do things really quickly, but I don’t want to deliver the wrong scheme.

“By the autumn of 2018 I would hope that we’d be on the ground doing works.

“Whether they will be complete is another matter.”

Even when the defences are finished, he says that people in flood-hit properties can never be certain their homes won’t flood again.

Mr Brown added: “The sad truth is that a big flood is always out there waiting to happen at some point.

“I can’t guarantee there will never be another big flood in Carlisle. It’s important that the city adapts to being a city with three rivers running through it.”

Carlisle City Council says that 1,852 homes and businesses were flooded over the weekend of December 5 and 6, compared with 1,925 in the flood of January 2005, despite £38m being spent on flood defences in the interim.

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