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Flood alerts in place for Cumbria

The Environment Agency has issued a number of alerts for Cumbria following sustained rainfall overnight.

They are warning river and lake levels have risen steadily overnight with further rain forecast through Sunday.

  • Rivers Brathay, Rothay and Winster
  • Rivers Caldew and Petteril
  • Rivers Cocker, Marron and Derwent
  • Rivers Duddon, Crake and Mill Beck
  • Rivers Ehen, Calder, Irt and Esk
  • Rivers Esk and Irthing
  • Rivers Greta, St Johns Beck and Bassenthwaite Lake
  • Upper River Derwent, Stonethwaite Beck and Derwent Water

Can tree planting really help prevent more Cumbrian floods?

Natural flood defences are unlikely to prevent major flooding, scientists have warned Credit: PA

Ever since Storm Desmond wreaked havoc across the region in 2015 there have been increasing calls for tree planting to be used as a way to reduce flood risks.

Campaigners have called for thousands of trees to be planted to help prevent a repeat of the flooding that devastated so many communities, but now scientists are questioning the effectiveness of natural flood defence schemes.

A Royal Society report published today says initiatives such as planting trees and creating wetlands are not "a silver bullet" for stopping flooding.

It warns that a lack of monitoring of existing schemes means their potential is unclear, and the hope they could stop the worst floods is not backed by evidence

Lead author Dr Simon Dadson, of the University of Oxford, told ITV Border:

What we've found is that when it comes to natural flood management, there are some interventions for which there is very strong evidence, but these tend to be in small-scale river catchments.

Our analysis showed that trees can help with minor flooding and improve the condition of the soil, but any extreme weather will soon saturate the ground and they cannot be relied on to defend communities.

– Dr Simon Dadson, of the University of Oxford

He warned that some extreme flooding, such as that caused when Storm Desmond hit parts of the UK in December 2015, could be "simply overwhelming" in the future.

Cumbrian-based Professor Louise Heathwaite, of Lancaster University, also worked on the report and said that while there might be no evidence to show the measures work at scale, they have other potential benefits.

Our analysis of the evidence shows there is no silver bullet solution to flooding in places like Cumbria based on natural flood management, except perhaps at small scales.

“But we must not lose sight of the long-term benefits for our landscapes for storing carbon, reducing soil erosion and boosting wildlife, together with the fabulous efforts of local communities to work together to increase their resilience to local flooding.

– Professor Louise Heathwaite, of Lancaster University

Peter Leeson, of the Woodlands Trust, said the charity has been involved in several schemes to plant thousands of trees including the planting of 126 hectares on Tebay Fell.

He admitted that tree planting was not a solution to flooding, but said it had to be “part of the mix”.

“The way the fells have been managed in recent years means they do not deal with water particularly well. There is a lack of complexity in the vegetation and the friction that vegetation creates and the ground has been compacted by animals.

“Tree planting will make a difference and have many other benefits such as providing shade for rivers which is important to control temperatures and protect fish,” he said.

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Grasmere flooding meeting to take place

Flooding in Grasmere. Credit: Jo Spencer/Jeff Moore/PA Images

People in Grasmere are being given the chance to learn about the work that needs to be done to prevent the village from being affected by future flooding.

The area was badly affected by the floods of Storm Desmond in December 2015, and was also left cut off by the destruction of the A591 road.

At a public meeting this evening, local people will be given a copy of the latest flood investigation report - a study carried out by the Environment Agency and Cumbria County Council.

What you need to know: Grasmere flood recommendations

People in Grasmere are being given the chance to learn about the work that needs to be done to protect the village and surrounding area from future flooding.

90 properties were affected by flooding in December 2015 as a result of high water levels in the River Rothay, Easedale Beck, Greenhead Gill and Grasmere Lake.

At a public meeting this evening (Monday 20th February), locals will be given a copy of the latest flood investigation report - a study carried out by the Environment Agency and Cumbria County Council into why the area flooded in December 2015.

The report looks at what, when and why the flooding results and identifies recommendations to minimise future flooding.

It says the earliest record of flooding affecting Grasmere is in the 1670s, and flooding was recorded again in 1967, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2015.

Despite this there are currently no formal flood defences in the village. It is expected to recommend:

  • Investigate options to improve highway drainage across A591. Extended closure of this road had a major impact on the local economy.
  • Develop options to provide advance warning of possible flooding.
  • Implement flood resilience measures within flooded properties. Grants are available to homeowners to help them better protect their homes.
  • Explore opportunities for engineered and natural flood management solutions to be used upstream of Grasmere to slow the flow and manage peak river levels.
  • Review drainage and sewage systems.

Flooding exhibition to open in Carlisle

Carlisle was devastated by flooding in December 2015. Credit: PA

An exhibition about flooding is taking place at Carlisle Race Course over the next two days.

The Cumbria Flood Expo has been organised by CERT UK, which used to be called Eden Flood Volunteers.

There will be stalls with help and advice about how people can protect their homes from flooding, and what to do if you are flooded.

The organisers are also keen to stress that the deadline to apply for flood resilience grants has been extended to March.

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Carlisle business closes for good after repeated flooding

Twelve months after the floods which devastated homes and businesses across Cumbria and the south of Scotland, dozens of traders are still feeling the effects.

One business on Carlisle's Warwick Road is closing for good at the end of the week, with its owner saying he can no longer face the uncertainty.

Michael Coburn's business was flooded for the second time last December. He's not the only one finding it hard to overcome the odds as Matthew Taylor reports.

Carlisle shop to close due to continued flood damage

Carpet shop on Warwick Rd Credit: ITV Border

The owner of a Carlisle carpet shop is closing the business for good after failing to recover from two severe floods.

Michael Coburn's business was flooded for the second time last December and since then he's been working from office space above his former shop.

"I couldn't face setting up the whole thing again. The thought that it could possibly happen again- I thought no that's it. It's quite sad when you see that your whole life time is washed away."

– Michael Coburn
Michael Coburn Credit: ITV BORDER

Across Cumbria more than 1000 businesses were flooded and around one in five are still closed.

In Carlisle, more than a quarter of flooded businesses have still to re-open.

Claire Armitage Credit: ITV BORDER

Claire Armitage's business was flooded, but she then moved to renovated premises on Warwick Road. She says she's prepared for any future flooding.

"We've decided to stay because my business is here, my house is here, my mum's here, I've lived her for over 20 years so I've just decided to stay."

"We've been there once, we've been there twice and we're just about flood proofed in case it happens again."

– Claire Armitage
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