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Floods Minister: 'Lake District is open for business'

Rory Stewart was at the ceremony. Credit: ITV Border

Floods Minister and local MP Rory Stewart says the re-opening of the A591 shows that Cumbria is very much "open for business".

The major Lake District route had been closed since the Storm Desmond floods on 5 December.

But the MP for Penrith and the Border says there's plenty more work to do, with a £10 million flood defence repair programme underway.

The work to open the A591 early shows how we are standing firmly behind communities hit by December's flooding with investment in infrastructure, new flood defences and promoting the region across the world. I am delighted Highways England has managed to do this at such high quality in very difficult circumstances.

We are showing the country, and the world, that Cumbria and the Lake District are back open for business.

– Rory Stewart, Floods Minister

Floods Minister 'shocked' by December's floods

Floods Minister Rory Stewart MP has admitted that his department and other government agencies were shocked by the level of rainfall in December's floods.

The MP for Penrith and the Border has said the Met Office's records were smashed by Storm Desmond.

He also believes that despite a commonly held view that the dredging of rivers is a solution to the flooding problem the reality is very different.

Rory Stewart to lead flood defence team

Rory Stewart will lead the team. Credit: Defra UK

Rory Stewart has been named chair of a new Cumbrian Floods Partnership.

The MP for Penrith and the Border says the idea is to help the county recover from Storm Desmond, and improve flood defences for the future.

The idea of this is to make sure we convene County Council, the Environment Agency, some of the emergency services and make sure we do all we can to make the region get back up and going again because hopefully we've made it through the worst of the emergency stages but there's still a lot of problems.

And also looking at what we do in the future both in terms of what we call 'hard' flood defences, things like dams but also the upstream stuff, planting trees and making sure we have absorbent ground so the water doesn't flush through."

– Rory Stewart MP


Cumbrian minister promises better times ahead for farmers

The Penrith MP and junior Environment Minister Rory Stewart has promised there will be better times ahead for dairy farmers at a meeting in Cumbria. The MP told around 200 farmers that world markets will pick up and that the Government will do all it can to prevent volitility in milk prices. Mr Stewart addressed the farmers at a crisis meeting at Rheged near Penrith this evening. The crisis in dairy farming has come about because many farmers say the price of milk is less than the cost of production.

There is of course light at the end of the tunnel. It is true that the global population is growing. It is true that demand for milk goes up all the time in places like China. The first thing that anyone in China or Indonesia wants to do when they grow weathy is buy milk and milk products. The secretary of state has also been very detirmed to get closely involved in whether we can set up proper hedging on prices so comodity prices jump around up and down year by year, can we set up a proper market so that's averaged out and smoothed over so people aren't going from boom to bust."

– Rory Stewart MP. Penrith and the Border
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