The Government needs to do more to protect Cumbrian businesses from flooding, Parliament will be told.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s business engagement manager, Julian Whittle is due to give evidence to the Environment and Rural Affairs Select Committee today to aid its inquiry into the impact of coastal flooding.

The chamber says it is keen to share its knowledge following the catastrophic floods that hit the county in 2005, 2009 and during Storm Desmond in 2015.

And while coastal flooding has been less of an issue, its chief executive Rob Johnston said it is likely to become more common with climate change bringing with it rising sea levels and more severe storms.

“Cumbria has key businesses in coastal locations, such as BAE Systems and Sellafield, as well as exposed road and rail links,” he said.

“At present the Government prioritises the defence of homes over businesses and infrastructure. We don’t want to see less spent on defending residential property, but we do think businesses and transport links deserve better protection.”

“Floods also inhibit investment. Banks are less likely to lend to businesses that are at risk from flooding.

“And multi-national businesses, who can pick and choose where they invest, are likely to divert spending away from flood-prone sites to those deemed less risky.”

Mr Johnston said the cost-benefit mechanism used by the Government to evaluate flood defence schemes, unfairly favoured South East England, where land values are higher.

London and the South East receives 60 per cent of flooding defence funding in England, but is home to just 32 per cent of the population.

“Our experience of river flooding shows that it isn’t only businesses that have been flooded that are affected,” he said.

“If your customers or key suppliers are knocked out by a flood, the consequences can be severe.

“Equally, lengthy road closures – as happened when Northside Bridge in Workington was swept away in 2009 – can have serious consequences. The additional costs to road users of those floods have been estimated at £2 million a week.”

The Government has committed £2.5 billion of capital funding for flood defences for the period 2015-16 to 2020-21.

Within that will be the cost of a significant scheme in Kendal, which is expected to cost between £35 million to £40 million, after it was several hit by Storm Desmond, affecting homes and businesses along the River Kent.

However, the Environment Agency – which is behind the plans – has said that spending needs to more than double to £1bn a year for the next 50 years to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

The call also comes just days after Ford Bridge in Burneside was reopened.

The structure was damaged by Storm Desmond in 2015 and subsequently closed to traffic in 2017 due to safety concerns. The closure has had a major impact on both residents and manufacturer James Cropper, which is based in the village.