£6m boost for Cumbria’s Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme

Cumbria County Council are set to receive £6m in government funding from Defra’s Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation programme.

The Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme (FCRIP) is part of the government’s National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England which has allocated £150m to improve the resilience of 25 areas. The fund, which is managed by the Environment Agency, aims to develop and test new approaches to resilience that are tailored to local communities.

Cumbria County Council, working in collaboration with partners to make up the Cumbria Innovative Flood Resilience (CiFR) group, is one of the successful applicants to be awarded funding.

Cumbria has suffered significant flood events over the years (including in 2005, 2009, 2012 and 2015), but many of the smaller communities and farm businesses affected are not eligible for funding for traditional flood defences. CiFR builds on a strong base of existing work in Cumbria around natural flood management, blended finance and community resilience, and will work with some of these communities to explore new ways to both protect them from flooding and to prepare for the residual flood risk.

As part of the funding bid, the partnership submitted information to the government to demonstrate how practical, innovative actions can work to improve resilience to both flooding and coastal erosion. The bid included:

  • Focusing natural flood management work in the areas where modelling shows it is likely to make a meaningful difference to the community’s flood risk, monitoring the impact that this work has on flood risk and water quality, and gaining a better understanding of the landscapes in which natural flood management makes the most difference to flood risk.
  • Employing Farming and Community Officers to work with farmers and local communities to co-design and fund natural flood management interventions that work for everyone, protecting farms, homes and local businesses from flood damage.
  • Supporting communities to prepare for the residual flood risk and building networks between communities to allow them to share knowledge and experiences.
  • Using the data gathered on the impact of natural flood management work to explore and expand the opportunities for bringing in funding from a range of sources and developing a package of blended finance.

The CiFR team will be working in four or five small communities that represent some of the many different landscapes in Cumbria, ranging from very fast reacting catchments within the Lake District to rural areas on the edge of the fells. This is an innovation project and will evolve as the research develops. The team are currently modelling the likely benefits to locations where they believe it may be possible to make a significant reduction in flood risk, and then plan to work with local communities to explore how those benefits might be delivered in practice.

Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said:

“Climate change is happening now, and experts predict there will be an increase in extreme weather, flooding and coastal erosion. The impact this has on people, communities, wildlife and the economy are huge.

“So much of our county has been affected by flooding over the years, and I am delighted that we have been selected to be one of Defra’s chosen areas to receive this funding boost. The funding will provide a fantastic opportunity to look at innovative new ways of reducing the risk of flooding over the next five years, throughout Cumbria, working closer with our smaller rural communities to help better protect and prepare them.”

Stewart Mounsey, Environment Agency, Flood Risk Manager for Cumbria added:

“Innovation will be key to making communities more resilient to the effects of climate change, so this funding is both hugely important and warmly welcomed. These initial projects will provide the evidence needed to help our investment programmes adapt to the changing climate and bring multiple benefits to communities and the environment.”

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