Thousands of homes across Cumbria are better protected from flood risk thanks to a number of multi-million pound schemes.

Exceeding its target in delivering the Government’s £2.6 billion investment in flood and coastal defence schemes since 2015, the Environment Agency and partners have completed more than 700 projects to better protect more than 300,000 homes, nearly 600,000 acres of agricultural land, thousands of businesses and major pieces of infrastructure.

Among those are a number of significant schemes delivered by the Environment Agency across Cumbria since 2015, including the Ulverston Town Beck flood scheme.

The £9.5 million scheme, completed in May 2018, includes raised flood walls and a maze of underground culverts, protecting more than 500 homes and businesses in Cumbria.

A raft of underground water channels (culverts) under the houses, roads and carparks in the town centre were repaired and/or replaced using innovative techniques and flood defences were constructed.

Town Beck lies within a steep catchment and predominantly runs underground through the town centre.

The flood scheme consists of a number of sections throughout the town centre including: raising existing flood defence walls; installing new floodgates; repairing and refurbishing the underground water channels (culverts); and building a swale in the natural flood plain to ensure that there is no increase to flood risk in south Ulverston.

A new wildflower meadow has also been created as part of the scheme, boosting biodiversity and improving the local environment.

Another project which has benefited from investment in flood defences is the £25m Carlisle Flood Risk Management Scheme.

This 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.

The first phase of the scheme reached completion in December 2020.

Covering the Melbourne Park area in Carlisle, improvements delivered as part of phase one of the Scheme will reduce flood risk to more than 1,200 homes and 106 businesses at a cost of £12m.

Work so far has included raising and extending flood walls and improving the flow of water through Botcherby Bridge to allow a greater volume of water to pass through during a flood.

Work during this first phase will also enhance wildlife habitats and recreation facilities in Melbourne Park.

Phase two of the scheme will reach completion at the end of April.

In West Cumbria, the Environment Agency is working with West Cumbria Rivers Trust farmers and landowners on the three-year catchment restoration project, comprising habitat improvement work and the installation of natural flood management features throughout the River Glenderamackin catchment area from Mungrisdale to Keswick.

Work has now taken place at numerous sites and includes: 53 leaky dams; new ponds to permanently hold more than eight million litres of water; embankments to temporarily hold back a further 12.6 million litres after storms; improvements to existing ponds and scrapes; 2.8 km of fencing along becks and associated tree planting; and 3.8 km of hedgerow planting and restoration.

All measures are designed to slow the flow of water both within watercourses and the wider landscape to help reduce peak river levels downstream

Stewart Mounsey, area flood and coastal risk manager for the Environment Agency in Cumbria, said: “We have made great progress in the last six years to reduce flood risk across Cumbria and this milestone of 300,000 homes better protected shows how far we’ve come.

"In excess of £55m has been invested in flood defences across Cumbria with our partners and we have seen the completion of major schemes such as, Keswick, Carlisle phase one and Ulverston Town Beck, all of which are helping to bring peace of mind to communities, as well as creating wider economic investment and community improvements.

“In addition to building new defences, we are also slowing the flow of flood water using natural flood management and have invested £2.5m in these approaches across the county.

"We look forward to using the next six years of investment in our flood and coastal defences to ‘build back better’ by making properties more resilient to flooding, and ‘build back greener’ by working with nature to make us more resilient to climate change.”