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Environment Agency rejects Cockermouth flood defence delay claims

Local news reports that the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth will get no flood defences for three years due to a lack of funding are inaccurate, the Environment Agency said last week.

A £100,000 feasibility study starting this summer and lasting for a number of months will review flood risk in Cockermouth and will involve a prioritisation exercise to determine whether flood defences should be upgraded in the area, said an Agency spokesman.

He clarified that flood defence investment in all locations is funded from the same pot of money, and locations are prioritised according to a number of factors including the number of households at risk, the vulnerability of infrastructure and transport and the cost of building and maintenance.

Cockermouth’s severe flooding in November 2009 was not due to a lack of existing defences but due to the unprecedented severity of the weather that meant those defences were overtopped, said the spokesman.

A local newspaper late last month quoted an Environment Agency spokesman as saying: “We don’t have any more funding to carry out the groundwork. The timescale of the business plan cannot be speeded up until we have additional funding.”

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