THE FLOODS OF APPLEBY - Summary and Analysis

  If you have navigated directly to this page - please first read 'Floods of Appleby' - link above                 also available in pdf format, which may be easier to read:  Summary and Analysis pdf


  13.03.20. - update to include a FoI request to the EA and their repsonse

  29.01.17. - Chapter completed (having commenced in May 2016).


             Frequency and Recurrence Intervals of Floods in Appleby
             Causes and Characteristics of Floods in Appleby
             Appleby v Carlisle
             What Happens Now? - How will the town be made more flood resilient?
             Final Summary and Conclusions

             Appendix   1    List of people, organisations who had access to the report prior to publication
             Appendix   2    Slow the Flow Techniques – (NFRM)
             Appendix   3    Corrections + Updates since this report was first circulated


  This analysis should quite correctly commence with several caveats, namely: it is both non scientific and non academic and is simply my own personal observations and thoughts based principally on my own research (other sources of information used are referenced below) and therefore reflects my own views and opinions.

  The 'work' is unfunded and does not represent any official analysis of a statutory body, however, it is at least an honest and genuine attempt at giving some context to the recent flooding in the town.

  Following Storm Desmond numerous official and academic reports have been published or are still been compiled, but because I am not an academic, scientist, or paid employee of the various statutory bodies, I can not compete with such reports - so I won't.

  It would be appropriate though for me to thank and acknowledge the invaluable assistance that I received from Rebecca Arkley and Dan Hughes at the Environment Agency, whom I could not blame for having grown wearisome of my numerous requests for further information, but who displayed great patience, professionalism and thoroughness in answering those queries.

  Additionally I should thank all the non-attributed contributors who have to remain nameless for an assortment of reasons.

  This 'report' is not just about Desmond, but is broader, more generalised and hopefully gives the fellow layman a better understanding of the main questions that they will want answers for, which basically are:

          (i) How often has such flooding occurred?
         (ii) How often can I expect it to happen in the future?
        (iii) What is being done by the relevant authorities to alleviate future flooding? Is there the political will and resources available to ensure that something is done?
         (iv) What impact will it have on the value of my house and my ability to sell it should the need/want arise?

    But allied to that and in light of the town having previously refused the 'imposition' of (some) flood defences, I then ask of The Town and its residents one important question and one that I feel does now need to be confronted.

 "With the warnings regarding the likelihood of more regular and severe flooding events due to climate change, does Appleby now finally

   have to accept the need for additional defences and what is 'The Town' and others doing to ensure its future flood defence capability?"


  That question is posed as an important consideration in its own right, but one that I feel should then be considered alongside the general assertion made by myself in this report regarding the level of flooding in Appleby. That assertion, virtually a conclusion, is that the relevant authorities have under estimated the frequency of and in particular the magnitude of flooding in the town. That the current level of flood protection afforded to the town, to cope with a 1 in 100 year flood is inadequate and that as it stands now it should more akin to that of a 1 in 200 year flood ££.

  However, one significant, but not especially expensive capital project ££ in the town would alleviate many of the current issues and then coupled with effective, well funded and whole heartedly supported upstream management schemes ££, those 1 in 200 year flood defences could more realistically be 1 in 150 years and possibly slightly less.

  However, both of the above have then to be considered alongside the following "...Future Flood Risk Management works would be assessed on their effectiveness, and resultant cost-benefit." which formed part of an answer to a question put by myself to the Environment Agency. However, I would assert that this in itself was not the full answer, which should have been

      "Future Flood Risk Management works would be assessed on their cost, effectiveness, and resultant cost-benefit"    -     and wherever you see ££ refer back to this statement.


  The plethora of reports that I refer to include:

        (i) Flood Investigation Report (Appleby)                         -   Environment Agency/Cumbria County Council (Sect' 19 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.)
       (ii) Internal Hydrology Report                                    -   Environment Agency
      (iii) Briefing Note: Severity of the December 2015 floods          -   Centre of Ecology and Hydrology
       (iv) Flooding from Storm Desmond in Northumberland and Cumbria    -   By Dr Geoff Parkin  (Newcastle University) for Project FRANC & Project SINATRA.
        (v) Cumbria Flood Plan - overview                                -   Environment Agency
       (vi) Cumbria Flood Action Plan - Appleby Community Action Table   -   Environment Agency
      (vii) December 2015 Event Analysis (Appleby - Final)               -   Environment Agency
     (viii) National Flood Resilience Review                             -   Defra

    And then there will be further briefing notes and reports from The Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, discussing the potential role of climate change and upstream land management in these and other UK flood events. And then there are papers produced by the Met' Office (including 'Did climate change have an impact on Storm Desmond?') and articles for 'Weather', the Royal Meteorological Society's magazine and quite probably many more that I am not aware off.


  However, the 'Flood Investigation Report' (FIR) for Appleby is the most important of all as apart from giving the obvious 'What happened, why and when?', (which when you break down all the jargon contained in these reports is the essence) it will also contain a section on 'Recommended Actions' and 'Next Steps'.

  Those 'Next Steps' will include the jargon of: 'The Cumbria Floods Partnership has brought together a wide range of community representatives and stakeholders from a variety of sectors to plan and take action to reduce flood risk. The Cumbria Floods Partnership, led by the Environment Agency, is producing a 25 year flood action plan for the Cumbrian catchments worst effected by the December 2015 flooding, including Appleby. The plan will consider options to reduce flood risk across the whole length of a river catchment including upstream land management, strengthening flood defences, reviewing maintenance of banks and channels, considering water level management boards and increasing property resilience. Local Authorities, United Utilities and others are working with communities, businesses and relevant stakeholders to understand and reduce flood risk across Cumbria.'

  This appears in all of the FIR's that have been completed for each community that was flooded, but more on this later. However, consider that, as will be demonstrated later, in those 25 years, Appleby can expect (as an average) to flood on eight occasions and one of those will be of a significant magnitude, something similar to what was seen in 2005 and quite possibly to that of December 2015.


  The following are the various other reports, books, etc used as reference as part of my research and those marked <> are available on line:

    (a) Topics in Applied Geography, Human Adjustment to the Flood Hazard                                -  Smith and Tobin 1979 (Longman).
    (b) Eden Catchment Flood Management Scoping Report (Oct' 2005)                                       -  Environment Agency (<>)
    (c) Eden Catchment Flood Management Plan [Summary Report] (Dec' 2009)                                -  Environment Agency (<>)
    (d) Review of the Pilot Flood Protection Grant Scheme in a Recently Flooded Area                     -  Defra and Environment Agency (Pb Nov' 2010) (<>)
    (e) Best Practice in Property Level Protection Systems - Advice for Local Authorities                -  Defra (Pb May 2014) (<>)
    (f) Flood Investigation Report (Appleby) (July 2016) (Sect' 19 Flood and Water Management Act 2010)  -  Cumbria County Council with the Environment Agency (<>)
    (g) Floods in North West England: a history c. 1600-2008                                             -  Watkins and Whyte 2009 (Centre for North-West studies, University of Lancaster)
    (h) The use of historical data in flood frequency estimation                                         -  Bayliss and Read 2001 (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) (<>)
    (i) Proposals for Scrub Creation on West Mallerstang Common  (Draft - August 2016)                   -  Natural England & West Mallerstang Commoners Association (<>)
    (i) Proposals for Scrub Creation on East Mallerstang, Birkett and Nateby Commons  (May 2014)         -  Natural England & West Mallerstang Commoners Association (<>)

 GLOSSARY - of terms used in this report:

 AEP       Annual Exceedance Probability
 CEH       Centre For Ecology and Hydrology
 CCC       Cumbria County Council
 C+W       Cumberland and Westmorland Herald - our local weekly newspaper
 EA        Environment Agency
 EDC       Eden District Council
 FIR       Flood Investigation Report (Appleby)
 FEH       Flood Estimation Handbook
 NE        Natural England
 NFU       National Farmers Union
 NRFM      Natural Flood Risk Management
 PLP       Property Level (flood) Protection
 PMF       Probable Maximum Flood
 WT        Woodland Trust
 YDNP      Yorkshire Dales National Park


  Prior to the wider publication of this report it was first sent to all persons and organisations named within and to any other interested parties to give them the opportunity to comment upon its content and to amend any factual inaccuracies - the full list of those to whom it was sent is provided at the end of the report.


   To begin:- Like no month or storm before it, December 2015 and in particular Storm Desmond had the effect of concentrating the minds of people into the causes of and possible solutions to the ravages of flooding that hit our communities.

  Flooded twice during December and narrowly avoiding a third occasion, Appleby was one such community that bore the brunt of the floods. Appleby is a community that is used to its town flooding on a regular basis and yet there are still parts of the town that remain undefended to flooding.

  The flood defences in the 'defended' part of town are designed to protect against a 1 in 100 year flood, but is that level of protection adequate and should they be more robust?

  However, the town has previously refused to accept some of the flood defences offered by the Environment Agency (EA), but now with repeated flooding having the potential to push householders into negative equity and/or at least severely reduce the value of their house or make it unsaleable, to threaten the viability of a shop or business in the town through unaffordable excesses on their insurance, can 'The Town' realistically refuse any defences that the EA will, at some point in the future, propose? Indeed should The Town be doing more? What more can it do?

  Also with the now confirmed closure of the Eden Side care home, The Town is now seeing a direct effect of years of previous inaction and intransigence, be that from itself and others.

  What active steps have the EA taken or are now proposing to bolster and improve the flood defences of the town and have they previously dragged their heels and consigned Appleby to the 'Too difficult and costly' tray.

  Has The Town let the EA get away with doing virtually nothing in the past and not pressed or challenged them at all, let alone come up with their own meaningful proposals?

  And of course now with the pressure on budgets and seemingly more communities vying for answers and solutions to their flood problems, placing an even greater strain on those budgets, has Appleby, a small rural community, left it too late - is it simply a problem that no-one is prepared to tackle and even if they did, would it be too expensive anyway?


 So many questions and not too many answers, but in many ways a summary of flood risk and management in Appleby could quite simply be covered by the following statements taken from 'e' above:

  "... appear to have been motivated and facilitated by three factors: people's awareness of the risk when they decided to move to, or remain in, the area; their recognition and acceptance of the risk from flooding, and the availability of the skills and understanding needed to select and implement the measures. In keeping with the findings of previous research (certainly covered in 'a'), analysis of the interviews in Appleby suggests that one reason for adaptive action was people's acceptance of the existence of an ongoing risk. Research in areas less well-known for flooding reveals that people sometimes choose to deny the existence of the risk, characterising floods as "freak events" and refusing to represent their localities as permanently at risk (Harries 2008a). Respondents in this research, in contrast, represented flooding and flood risk as normal characteristics of their town (Appleby) and accepted that their properties would continue to be at risk. This enabled them to act to reduce their exposure to that risk."

  Some of the observations made by residents when interviewed included:

  "Well, we'd had the property since the 1950s and we knew how much it used to flood – and it was getting worse, so [after the 1995 flood] we just decided that we'd take what precautions we could at the time."

  One person when asked "When you decided to move here, did the flooding come into your consideration?", replied

  "Yes, it did. And one of the first things we actually did was, like, [ask the landlord] and he said it will flood. And [we knew about] the devastation from [name of friend] being here at the 2005 floods. And I also actually...I'd not long started flat-sharing with [name of other friend] when he'd only just moved back into his house after that being refitted as well, so it never bothered me because I mean like, as a teenager I went out and helped do sandbagging on [name of street]. I mean I've lived on [name of a street that floods] as well."

  Further considerations were: Most residents and businesses had made a conscious choice to locate in the flood risk area. Attracted by a combination of lower housing costs, the attractive location, proximity to the town centre and access to passing trade, respondents often argued that the advantages of The Sands outweighed the disadvantages of the flooding. Furthermore, it was well-known that local people were themselves partially responsible for the existence of the risk because they had rejected the structural solution offered them by the Environment Agency in 1985. Alongside acceptance, a second important factor determining behaviour is confidence about the right way of adapting to a flood risk.

  And in a demonstration of the resilience of Appleby residents the research found that amongst residents there was a 'relatively high level of confidence in planning and implementing their approach to adaptation. In part, this was due to an accumulation of experience from the floods they had lived through. With each flood, people become more aware of the most productive ways of reducing their risk exposure.'

  It went on to add: "... respondents accepted that their area flooded frequently, felt certain that no large-scale defence was forthcoming and were familiar with the manner of flooding and the kind of damage it was likely to cause. As a result, they were relatively willing and able to implement adaptation measures and to plan how to respond to future floods."

  Acceptance appears to be driven by two factors: familiarity with flooding and the extent to which exposure to the risk is voluntary. Many residents of the pilot area had lived in or around Appleby for most of their lives and were therefore familiar with the issue of flooding. Even those who had only recently moved onto the floodplain had been aware of the floods before they did so and, in many cases, had witnessed them personally. As a result, people accepted that floods would occur regularly and there was little evidence of psychological denial.

  As with other research referenced in the various reports about people's attitude and response to flooding in Appleby, resilience and acceptance were notable and the ability and willingness to "Carry on as normal" - however, the Desmond event and December 2015 as a whole, possibly caused a chink in that attitude.

  One of the comments made by a resident at the time was that it had been "A simply tiring and exhausting month", and could now be an indication of a change in mind-set of residents and the town council in now being prepared to accept and indeed request more flood defences, but more on this later - firstly I will consider the frequency of flooding in the town.



  It is too easy to say that Appleby as always flooded, will continue to flood and that the residents of the town both expect it and are resilient because of it, but to have any idea of the way forward and what is needed, you do need to know the history and scale of flooding in the town to help plan for the future.

  On the main 'Floods of Appleby' page, I list all the known floods in the town as far back as is currently known (1733), it is likely that some flood events have been missed, but probably not many.

  In 'a' Smith and Tobin (S+T) provided a detailed list of all the floods that their research had unearthed, principally back to 1815 and this list was further updated by the EA after the flood of 1995.

  I have now subsequently updated that list to the present date and have been able to include floods that S+T had not been aware of. I have not included the 'events' of 1819, 1855, 1861 and the second flood of 1898 as they are either believed to have been minor with no damage and/or I have not yet been able to find direct references to how they affected Appleby.

  S+T then categorised all the known floods into three groups. Group 1 were the most serious of all with extensive damage caused, group 2 still saw extensive damage, but to fewer properties and group 3 were the least serious, but still saw some damage caused to at least one property.

  S+T's choice of using 1815 as a starting point was entirely sensible as we can now be fairly certain that we have captured the vast majority of all floods since that point, whereas going further back would create a less reliable list - and whilst they created the list in 1979, now in 2016 it quite neatly provides for a 200 year record!

  S+T then calculated a 'Recurrence Interval' for the three flood categories and for this used the very simple formula of:

      Recurrence interval = Tr = n + 1 / m
      n = years of record
      m = number of floods up to given magnitude

  Table 1 is that of S+T whilst Table 2 is that of the Environment Agency (EA) after the 1995 flood.

    Even though the EA simply updated S+T, the one striking difference is that of the recurrence intervals.

  S+T state about their calculations:

  'These figures compare favourably with the independent hydrological estimates of flood probabilities made by the North West Water Authority in 1975 ... The official estimates of flood frequencies in Appleby also compare favourably for the larger floods: 30.6 years by the water authority and 31.2 years from the historical survey.'

  Whilst the EA used estimated recurrence intervals after 1995 they have more than doubled the estimates provided by S+T - I have asked the EA if they are able to explain this discrepancy and to date they have not offered an answer.

  I have also asked the EA if they have further updated the earlier work and recalculated the recurrence intervals following Storm Desmond - to date they have not offered an answer - albeit the method for estimating a floods Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP), which describes the likelihood of a specified flow rate (or volume of water with specified duration) being exceeded in a given year, as now quite clearly become 'scientific'.

  Today, flow rates are king.

  Whilst the historical survey is given some credence, its importance has diminished and it is the flow rate of a river that is now referred to.

  For Appleby the floods of 2015 are unprecedented when compared with the flow rates of 2005 and 1968, but no-one can tell you what the flow rate was in 1928 when the town was hit by a 'raging torrent' and the road surface of Chapel Street was ripped up, as the equipment to measure the flow of the Eden was only in place from the 1960's.

  However, you will need the 'Flood Estimation Handbook' (FEH) which is the UK standard for estimating river flood frequency, which is produced by the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology (prices start from £260) to be able to fully explore AEP. However, the basis is that floods are no longer grouped together and working out a long-term average for each type of flood, despite having a 200 year record, is not the way anymore.

  The AEP is the chance or probability of a natural hazard event (usually a rainfall or flooding event) occurring annually and is usually expressed as a percentage. Bigger rainfall events occur (are exceeded) less often and will therefore have a lesser annual probability.

  Example 1:
            2% exceedance probability rainfall event: A 2% Annual Exceedance Probability rainfall event has a 2% chance of occurring in a year, so once in every 50 years.  
  Example 2:
            20% exceedance probability rainfall event: A 20% Annual Exceedance Probability rainfall event has a 20% chance of occurring in a year, so once in every 5 years.
        0.1% AEP = 1 in 1000 year event        Very rare
          1% AEP = 1 in  100 year event        Greater rainfall event
          2% AEP = 1 in   50 year event              
          5% AEP = 1 in   20 year event
         10% AEP = 1 in   10 year event
         20% AEP = 1 in    5 year event
         50% AEP = 1 in    2 year event
        100% AEP =   Happens every year        Lesser rainfall event

  To give some examples of what this means, the draft FIR for Appleby following Desmond states: 'Appleby was flooded in 2005 which was equivalent to 0.1% AEP' and 'The November 2009 event was estimated to be an event with a probability greater than 1% AEP.' and for the Desmond event 'Return periods ...two of these locations have recorded rainfall that is estimated to be rarer than 0.1% AEP.'

  However, that 0.1% AEP (1:1000 yr event) for 2005 seems over represented and I await and answer from the EA regarding this.

  However, not everyone will want to see a flooding event represented this way and so I have re-produced and updated the work of S+T to show the recurrence intervals of all known floods in Appleby from 1815.


  Now this is when the scientists and academics will condemn me - the same table but now showing an AEP instead of a recurrence interval.


  So whilst in 'e' residents stated that the Eden flooded every second year, over the last 200 years the average is demonstrated to be every third year. This is a significantly high average and one which will undoubtedly have an effect on house prices, potential for negative equity, homes and contents insurance, resident's health, etc - as will be shown in the section on the impacts of flooding.

  The majority of those category 1 floods would have been classified as at least a 1% AEP and some like 2015, 0.1% AEP or rarer - but it does not require an unprecedented rainfall event (or even a 1.0% AEP) to produce a category 1 flood. Consider that in the 1968 floods (March - category 1), the year's wettest day at one of the two rain gauges in the town actually fell in September! Also, that in years such as 1947 snow melt played a crucial role in the flooding that ensued; a factor that has in itself melted into the background with the general reduction in snowfall in recent years.

  So when the draft FIR following Desmond began with the following:

  “The flooding experienced in Appleby on the 5th and 6th of December 2015 was unprecedented and was the result of the effects of Storm Desmond”.

  I suggested to the EA that it might be more correct to state:

 “The flooding experienced across Cumbria on 5-6th December 2015 as a result of Storm Desmond was unprecedented, although in Appleby there have been other occasions when the flooding is known to have been of the same or at least, similar magnitude in the town.”

  It should be noted that whilst 1815 was the start point used for these averages due to a lack of certainty regarding records prior to this date, the 1790's saw numerous floods and the floods of 1771 would undoubtedly have been categorised as of the most severe kind.

  Therefore I believe that it is fairly straightforward to claim that over the last 250 years the town has had nine floods in what would be classed 'as of at least 1% AEP'.

  An uneasy estimation.

  I am only attempting to apply modern day methods to those nine major floods that have occurred in the last 250 years and I would assert that if any one of those floods were to happen tomorrow, that it would result in the EA and CCC having to complete a FIR and in which it would categorise the flood 'as of at least a 1% AEP' - so nine (of at least, if not greater) '1 in 100 year' floods in 250 years - and of course the relevance to all this is that the modern day flood defences in Appleby are designed to protect against a 1% AEP, when it could be argued that history would suggest that they should be more robust and that the AEP's applied are possibly over estimated.

  One factor that should not be overlooked is that the towns flood defences are relatively recent additions and would not have been in place for these more historic floods. So whilst undoubtedly the defences did prevent the flooding of 2015 from being even worse than it was (properties flooding earlier and to a greater depth being typical examples), it would be incorrect to try and claim that had the current defences been in place for those historic floods, they would not have reached a category 1 status.

  The longest period that the town has gone between floods is eleven years (1936-1947) and this is assuming that research doesn't unearth anymore. But then a high proportion of years have seen multiple floods (eg: 1954) and then such as the 1850's, 1890's and since 2004 to the present day, there have been periods when flooding occurred more frequently - these low and high frequencies are also referred to as 'Flood Rich' and 'Flood Poor'. However, one curiosity is the lack of category 2 flood for 21 years, but in which time there has been two of Cat' 1 and six of Cat' 3 (maintaining that 1:3 ratio).

  Table 4 below shows some other timelines of flooding frequency and whilst showing that 1888-1903 was a wetter period than the period 2004-15, these need to be viewed with caution as they are somewhat arbitrary (eg: I could have used 1884-1903 or 2004-2015 which would have had the same number of floods but over different durations).


  The essence though is that flooding is going to cause at least one property to flood on average every three years and that the longest break before the next flood is eleven years.




  The River Eden has a catchment area of over 2300 square Kilometers, rises in the Mallerstang valley and is then 'topped up' by numerous tributaries from off the Pennines as it makes its way first through Kirkby Stephen before reaching Appleby. Significantly it then continues on and through Carlisle.

  The Eden is a highly responsive river with a high frequency flood risk which can be further fuelled in winter by snow-melt. The flooding in the town is normally of short duration, high velocity, with flood waters sweeping through the town, often described as 'raging torrents' (in contrast to that at Carlisle). Therefore, the Eden can rise to peak levels and back to a normal level within a period of 8-12 hours.

  Within Appleby, the church, vicarage, the main centre of town including The Sands and several acres of land all lie on the lowest land and within the loop of the Eden and therefore are most liable to flooding. Obviously there are occasions when just the right bank downstream of the bridge is breached and the flooding is restricted to a few properties on The Sands, although the majority of these properties have had their own flood alleviation measures (plp) in place for some time.

  Floods are most likely to occur in the winter months, (November-February) with few outside of these months and only the years 1819, 1855, 1898, 1912 and 1928 have seen floods in the summer. No deaths have been directly attributed to flooding in the town and the deepest that the flood water is reported to have attained is 6ft (1.83 meters) – the same as reported during Storm Desmond.

  If the catchment area is already saturated following a period of heavy rainfall (autumn 1954, Nov/Dec 2015) then the outcome of further rain, will either be repeated low level flooding (1954) or with more intense and heavy rainfall, then, as seen with Desmond, severe and destructive (December 2015 also saw further repeated low level flooding later in the month).

  However, to confuse the picture, there are occasions when despite heavy winter rainfall, flooding doesn't follow. In the Appleby rainfall series that commenced 1856, the top ten wettest winters have all had over 400 mm of rain (the 11th wettest falls below 400 mm) and in two of those there was no flooding. In particular 2013-14 with 498.5 mm is now the third wettest winter in that record and there was no flood, the other winter being 1914-15.

  The map below gives an indication of the tributaries feeding into the Eden upstream of Appleby.


  It should be remembered that Appleby itself is a relatively dry location with average annual rainfall for the town being 892.9 mm (35.1 in.) [records commenced 1856] and even taking the daily rainfall for Desmond on the 5th December of 61.6 mm, it is easy enough to find other years with higher daily totals.

  But as we all know, it was the cumulative effect of heavy rain on that 'already saturated ground' over the three days (3rd = 22.4 mm + 4th = 50.3 mm), but as they saying goes,

           'I lift my eyes upto the mountains'.

  And there I see Aisgill in the Mallerstang valley and the EA rain gauge which on those 3 days recorded rainfall of:    3rd = 31.9 mm      4th = 43.7 mm      5th = 94.9 mm.

  So whilst Appleby was indeed wet with a three day total of 134.3 mm, Aisgill had 170.5 mm - now just imagine if there had been a cover of snow on the mountains prior to this rain!

  All these factors put Appleby within a Flood Zone 3 category (land having a 1 in 100 or greater annual probability of river flooding) this is classed as 'High Probability' of flooding and only a category 3b (flood plain) is at greater risk - the EA map below shows what this looks like in Appleby:


  Now compare this to a an EA map showing the extent of the flooding caused by Desmond:


  And if we wanted to go further back, compare with the floods of 2005.


  Now obviously more properties were inundated during Desmond than in 2005, but the FIR for Desmond does state "The extent of the flood is similar to the EA's Flood Zone 3, however, flood depths were higher than previously recorded".

  All of this leads me to believe that the maximum upper limit of flooding in Appleby is already known, the 'Probable Maximum Flood' (PMF) which is:

  'the largest flood that could conceivably occur at a particular location, usually estimated from probable maximum precipitation, and where applicable, snow melt, coupled with the worst flood producing catchment conditions. Generally, it is not physically or economically possible to provide complete protection against this event. The PMF defines the extent of flood prone land, that is, the floodplain. The extent, nature and potential consequences of flooding associated with a range of events rarer than the flood used for designing mitigation works and controlling development, up to and including the PMF event should be addressed in a floodplain risk management study.'

  So basically take all those Cat' 1 floods, Desmond as well - and the extent of flooding would never get any worse in Appleby - which obviously leads onto the question of

   "If the PMF for Appleby is known and whilst appreciating that not all flooding can be prevented, then the correct estimation (and building thereof) of the appropriate flood defences should be known (and achievable)?"   ££

  There is another consideration to take into account first though and that is the issue of the Doomgate Culvert Inlet on Colby Lane.

  During the flooding event of 2005 the culvert caused flooding to 28 properties in the town and then in 2009 in 'd' it states:–

   “A second example of collective protective action concerns a cluster of three conjoined properties in the south of Appleby that flood with surface water from the front and overland water from behind. In this case, the scheme provided deployable barriers for gates and doors and an outside drain and drainage point and the scheme organisers also worked with the Highways Agency to reduce the flooding from the road.”

  Below are some of the questions that I have asked the EA about the culvert, with their answers in red:

  1.) When was the issue of this Culvert first discovered by the EA/Relevant authority (or same informed of)?

  Answer  -  "Doomgate culvert was designated as a “Main River” in the early 2000’s, allowing the EA to regulate it, assess it and fund works to it. Before this time, no authority had really paid any attention to it. It was in a state of disrepair and there were no records of maintenance or flooding. The 2005 flood event was the first demonstration that the culvert system could surcharge and flood the lower areas of the town."

  2.) What remedial work has been conducted since 1 above?

  Answer  -  " After 2005 floods, a study was completed which identified the scale of the problem and informed an appraisal for the project which was submitted to our Medium Term Plan for FCRM Investment. Due to the low cost-benefit scoring of the project, it never progressed further through the funding system. As part of the culverts asset maintenance lifecycle, it was refurbished by the EA in 2012."


  So whilst the issue was a much greater one (the flooding of properties in the town) and which affected not just these three properties, they as part of the scheme were given plp - hence the following question was put to the EA:

  3.) Was the EA's solution to the issue in 2005 (2009?) to provide plp to the three affected properties on Colby Lane?

  Answer  -  "Not quite a 'solution' although those three properties are very grateful for the works. This was a pilot scheme funded through a different mechanism to usual EA works."

  So what about the other 28 properties down in the town? From having talked to people in this part of town the issue would seem to be one that is generally known about, although I did ask the EA for their own opinion:

  4.) What level of awareness does the EA believe/know that the owners have as to the cause of flooding to their properties? Have the EA made them aware of the cause?

  Answer  -  " ... in essence, we are confident that the majority of residents in that area are aware of the potential flooding resulting from the culvert. It is often raised by residents at community meetings and is a long standing issue that agencies have worked on alongside the community to try to improve."


  But moving onto 2015 and the FIR, it states:-

  “Doomgate, Holme Street, Chapel Street area significantly affected by flooding purely from Doomgate Culvert ...”

  The FIR does not state how many properties were affected in 2015 and in reply to a question from myself regarding this point, the EA have provided the following answer:-

   "It’s very difficult to give a definite figure for the number of properties flooded by the culvert as that area also suffered flooding from surface water so it’s hard to attribute an instance of property flooding to one of these particular sources. However, our best estimate at this time would be less than 29 properties, which are the number of properties under the flood warning area in that location."

  The issue with this culvert is described in the FIR:

   'The field to the south of Colby lane acts as a flood plain, which contributes runoff to Doomgate culvert. A 525mm diameter culvert discharges into the River Eden via a flap valve outfall. During the flood event, due to the high river level, the flap valve on the outfall closed to prevent the River Eden backing up into the town. This resulted in the Doomgate Fluvial Flows and local surface water runoff backing up the drainage system and surcharging the pipes and manhole covers on the culvert at Doomgate. This flooded Holme Street and Chapel Street.'

  A fairly simple principal, water flows downhill (into Holme Street) and that once downhill it has to go somewhere. Because it couldn't get to the river via the culvert it broke up through the manholes and created surface water flooding - but the level of flooding from this issue is notable, if not significant and was known about - Doomgate Culvert at Colby lane is shown below, but there is more on this issue in the final summary.


  The one on the left is taken from page 12 of the 2015 FIR, the one on the right is taken from 'd' (but from the 2005 floods) - so yes, they used a 2005 photograph in the 2015 FIR as: "It is the same photo, however it still looks the same and demonstrates what happens at the culvert better than other images."


  Since this report was covered by the C+W Herald on 31.12.16. I have been contacted by an 80yr old resident of the town who tells me that Rampkin Pastures (across the road from the culvert) always used to flood in a winter (natural water storage) – and then the houses were built!



  This is quite clearly a non contest as Carlisle with its larger population, more properties at flood risk, its infrastructure and overall greater significance, will always be first in the queue for the available pot of money and any capital projects concerning flood defences.

  However, whatever money does go the way of Carlisle is deserved and needed, this is not an exercise in trying to say otherwise ... but is there a disparity?

  But as the river Eden flows through both towns then one may think that what benefits Carlisle would also benefit Appleby - but the reality would actually be the reverse and hence what benefits Appleby will also benefit Carlisle.

  However, the frequency and nature of flooding in Carlisle is different to that of Appleby and should be first considered.

  As already mentioned, flooding in Appleby is normally of 'short duration, high velocity' whilst in Carlisle the flood waters take many hours to rise and then gradually spreads out over the flood plain, now taken up by residential properties.

  However, it is also correct to say that major floods occur more frequently in Appleby than in Carlisle, yet despite this simple fact, flood defence work as centred on Carlisle and not Appleby.

  In Appleby no major flood alleviation scheme was in place as late as 1979 and it was only in 1995 that defences were finally put in place.

  Some of these defences were of a temporary nature and only now in 2016 have some of these been updated (the flood wall next to the swimming pool), but crucially still only offer protection against the 1:100 year flood.

  After the devastating floods of January 2005 a £38 million flood defence scheme was implemented in Carlisle - What did Appleby get? The following questions were put to the EA:

  1.) "Apart from general maintenance and the replacement wall at the swimming pool, between January 2005 and November 2015 what work has taken place in Appleby to strengthen or complement the existing flood defences?

  Answer  -   no answer was given - instead an answer was given to the question below (2) which formed part A of this initial question (1)

  2.) "Apart from the design fix to the Doomgate Culvert (not implemented) what other investigations, research, projects, etc have been undertaken in this timeline to strengthen Appleby’s flood defences? When will this work commence and could you provide costings, etc."

  Answer  -  "In that timeframe:

  * 2007 - Flood gate refurbishment.

  * 2008 - DEFRA pilot scheme delivering resilience measures to properties on the Sands.

  * 2009 - Doomgate culvert refurbishment (not improvement).

  * 2010 – Appleby Gauging Station Repairs (supporting the Flood Warning System).

  * 2012 - Channel side repairs opposite the swimming pool to prevent landslides into the channel in 2012.

  * 2012 - Gravel removal at the Swimming Pool bend in 2012.

  * 2015 - Pumping station refurbishment.

  * 2015 - Pumping station improvement and resilience works delivered to make sure it can operate without electricity.

  * Not Environment Agency - estimated 2013 - Cumbria County Council flood wall outside the Grapes Pub and other properties."

    The list is telling and yet another one covered in the final summary.


  Now after Desmond we read in v the following:


  £25 million for Carlisle and a similar amount for Kendal and district - but what about Appleby?


  A significantly smaller pot and to be shared out with other communities to strengthen their flood defences, 'to better protect homes' without going onto clarify what strengthening will be done.

  But it doesn't take my non academic eyes to notice that grouped in with Appleby are locations not even on the River Eden, but more pointedly it includes Rickerby Park. Just in case you don't know, Rickerby Park is in ... Carlisle! And in the FIR for Carlisle in the list of recommended actions for additional flood defence strengthening, Rickerby Park is one of the locations to benefit.

  But as already seen, Carlisle is getting its own dedicated pot of money, surely this can't be right and hence the following was asked of the EA:

  1.) "The Cumbria Flood Action Plan states that there is £6.5 million of government funding for projects in the Eden catchment to better protect at least 503 homes in Appleby, Eamont Bridge, Wigton, Pooley Bridge, Rickerby Park and Gamblesby – how will this money be divided and in particular how much is to be allocated to Appleby and Rickerby Park?"

  Answer  -   none was given - the question below (2) was part A of this question and that was answered.

  2.) "Why is Rickerby Park grouped with the above towns and villages and not Carlisle?"

  Answer  -  "Rickerby wasn’t considered as part of the Carlisle scheme post the 2005 flooding. It is currently undefended and as such is being considered in its own right."

  I have not asked the EA to further clarify these two answers (albeit they have seen this 'report' prior to its publication) - but these two 'answers' will obviously be covered in the final summary.


  Also, in the same document it states that the following will also be done: "Install woody debris dams, reduce soil compactions and identify locations for additional storage of floodwater upstream of the villages of Gamblesby, Cumrew and Stockdalewath."

  No mention of such schemes upstream of Appleby (one, possibly two other different schemes are mentioned, but no schemes such as this are mentioned) and of course Stockdalewith and Cumrew are just outside of Carlisle.

  As already mentioned, Appleby did not have its own flood defences until 1995, but the issue of flooding has always been there. At Carlisle several piece-meal schemes were in place back to the 19th century, but it really wasn't until the 1968 floods that a structural flood alleviation scheme was finally put in place. After the 1968 floods Appleby got a ... proposal ££.

  One that after many years was shelved due to being too costly - this proposal was quite interesting in that it would have deepened the Eden from the main bridge downstream to Holme Farm with a system of graded banks designed to accommodate different channel flows. The scheme did undergo several amendments and in 1975 was costed at £120 000 - eventually that cost prevented it from being implemented  -  See Update 2 - App' 3.

  Finally in 1995 at a cost of £750 000 Appleby finally had its own flood alleviation scheme which aimed to protect Chapel Street, Holme Street and Bridge Street. There has been the replacement of the existing temporary defences, but effectively nothing more - and now apart from what has already been spent on Carlisle, with more to come, Appleby is still left not really knowing what to expect in the future to protect it.

  Whilst it can never be disputed that strategically Carlisle is of greater need and importance, one other little fact should not be discounted ... Carlisle is also a marginal constituency.

  Held by Labour from 1964-2010 when it was taken by the Conservatives and who increased their majority at the 2015 election to 6.5%, it still represents a target seat for Labour. Whereas the Penrith and Borders constituency is a safe Conservative seat with a 45.3% majority and of which Appleby is just a small part.

  So for Carlisle, be it a Labour held marginal in 2005 when the last defences were built or now a Conservative held marginal, when the majority of any money and hence capital schemes goes to the city, then these little points will always play a part in any sitting MP's promotional literature.

  ** on 21.10.16. a check of the title page of John Stephenson's (MP for Carlisle) own website carries ten separate news items - six of which were connected to issues surrounding flooding. In comparison, the title page of Rory Stewart's website (expand down to the first full page of 'news articles') has ten news articles of which none are about flood issues!!


  Floods of 1968



  There is no need to state the obvious, but even in a community like Appleby where its residents are used to the impacts of flooding, they still have to be dealt with and overcome. Some had to find alternative accommodation or just 'live upstairs' and then go through all the processes of making good one's property to either live in or trade from - and of course that is just the beginning, then there are the long-term issues.

  But for a small yet vibrant community like Appleby, when the floods hit the centre of the town, are widely reported in the media (the image of the settee/chair floating along The Sands almost seems to be the enduring image of the floods and not just in Appleby) the impacts can be more far ranging - so beyond the 'just getting your property sorted' there are:

  The emotional and mental scars, the cost (both personal and accumulative to the community, business, etc), loss of valued personal and family possessions, fear, anxiety, deterioration in diet and living standards, falling house prices, negative equity, the effects on agriculture/farmers, tourism, increased insurance premiums and excesses, all of which are well known and some are in many ways quite personal - but in many cases that can just be the start. The list goes on, but in particular for Appleby the closure of the Eden Side care home has been one of the main issues to come from the floods.

  But there can also be positives as well, in terms of the community spirit, the 'bounce back' and it creates the opportunity to re-evaluate and change or improve things for the future. Whilst most retail outlets went for a quick and immediate re-instatement, others have rebranded or at least re-jigged, but below are some of the main issues:


 Property Prices  -   will obviously be affected, but even this is not quite as straight forward as may first appear, but it is not all bad news.

  One of the complicating matters in Appleby is the new development by Story Homes (Orchard Place) which in itself has had a knock on effect for the rest of the town. Opinions may vary, but such a new development may naturally reduce prices in the rest of town, as people thinking of moving into the town may naturally look at a new build first, thus creating a degree of competition.

  Naturally one of the easiest ways by which to judge any movement on house prices is to compare the prices now with what they were several years ago and this again creates a problem as those properties that were flooded are not coming to market. In August 2016 a residential property came to market on The Sands that had been flooded and remains unsold. But as a buyer thinking of moving to Appleby, do you look at safer options?

  Some properties along Chapel Street remain unoccupied and this along with unsold properties and the waiting to see 'what this winter brings' and for any new flood defence schemes to be built, can only create a negative impact in the housing market. One of the very first questions that estate agents are asked when taking a query about properties for sale is "Was it flooded?"

  The waiting game very much applies to the housing market and until there are tangible signs of new defences having been built then house prices will remain depressed. However, research shows that if there are no more floods then house prices will recover. Researchers at Wolverhampton University looked at this subject scientifically in 2007. They studied over 6,000 flooded households in 13 different UK locations (albeit none in Cumbria). The results?

  “The research suggests the majority of homeowners who are flooded can reinstate their home in the confidence that they will be able to sell without loss of value ... for the small minority of locations where a price dip was observed- mainly towns where there were several incidents – the effect was temporary; prices recovered within three years at the most, often more quickly.”

  But what about those with properties on Holme Street and Chapel Street, "the 28"? That number obviously refers to the number of properties that were flooded due to the surcharging of the Doomgate Culvert - twice!

  If such a property did come to market then any legal searches by the prospective purchasers solicitor would soon discover this fact and indeed it would have to be declared in any sellers questionnaire - the simple question is this: 'Would you buy such a property? And one would have to question if you could actually secure a mortgage on such a property.

  So for those people with properties that flooded and especially in Chapel/Holme Street the prospect is of having a home reduced in value and which at least in the short to medium term you could not sell - until the issue of the culvert is resolved. ££

  But the key here is that of no more flooding incidents.


 Insurance  -   one simple point to make here is that the now reduced cost of implementing the design fix to the Doomgate Culvert would now be about the equivalent of the insurance loss in that part of town.

  It is not easy to quantify the actual insurance liability from Desmond in Appleby, but using a crude measure it would be in the region of £9-10 million. The main insurance provider in the town, NFU, had a liability of £4.4m based on 83 claims (commercial and residential), which considering is more than their income for the Appleby branch represents a major commitment by them to the town. With over 170 properties having been flooded, not all of which will have been insured, the crude maths suggests that final figure. And of course insurance doesn't always cover the full loss, so that final figure maybe somewhat higher.

  Before moving on to the other issues regarding insurance, I will first of all add that I am not a NFU customer, now or in the past and do not work for them, etc, but it should rightly be pointed out that when needed, Amanda and the team at Appleby stepped forward and provided the 'extra mile' in terms of service and continue to do so - one advantage of having your insurance with a company that has a branch office in your town.

  Many residents with insurance were back in their properties by July, fully re-instated, but that obviously is only part of the story. Some needed alternative accommodation whilst their properties were being repaired, some of those people have particular needs which could not be catered for in their temporary accommodation. There will always be hidden (and uninsurable) costs in such circumstances and what to do about a Flood Grant?

  Over the last year most will by now have had their insurance renewal and are facing anything upto and in some cases over a 100% increase on their premiums and not only that but an increase on the excess - but can you afford not to have it?

  However, take someone who's property cost their insurers a below average £30 000 to repair and who's premium is now £700 instead of £300 - that would still take the insurers 75 years to re-coup their 'loss'.

  Some businesses on The Sands are now looking at a £15 000 excess on their policy - this will be mentioned in the final summary, but how many times can you afford to make a claim with such an excess to consider?

  Increase your excess to reduce the premium? What if you flood again though?

  FLOOD RE is the government backed scheme that ensures 'affordable' insurance so long as you live in the property yourself and that it was built prior to 2009 (that criteria should be achieved by most people/properties in the town) and is supported by the majority of the insurance companies, but it won't prevent an increase in your premium.

  A useful source of information on the scheme can be found at: 'FloodRe explained'

  And as Ben Wallace MP (Wyre and Preston North) said at a Flood conference on 28th January 2017, if when you get your new insurance quote following flooding you feel that it or the excess is disproportionately large, contact your local MP who will take the matter up on your behalf.


  FLOOD GRANTS is an interesting topic and from the pilot scheme mentioned above, some properties, namely on The Sands and Colby Lane do have plp already, but what about those applying now? The following questions were put to EDC (answers received 14.12.16.):

  1.) "Since December 2015 how many applications for flood grants have been received from Appleby?"

  Answer  -  "We haven’t recorded separately residential and commercial, to date 135 Application have been received from addresses in Appleby."

  2.) "How many have been paid out to date?"

  Answer  -  "42 paid out to date."

  3.) "How many have been refused - is there a typical reason for refusal, such as was it a retrospective application?"

  Answer  -  "No one who is eligible has been refused a grant. We may have several discussions regarding what is or isn’t grant fundable."

  4.) "What is a typical/average period of time before payment of the grant is made?"

  Answer  -  ". No data recorded on this as often applications are incomplete, there may be delays in obtaining builders, products, listed building consent so time scales can vary considerably"


  This does show a good level of awareness of the availability of the grant scheme, but the fact that one year after Desmond only 31.1% of applications have been paid out either demonstrates one or both of:

     • A slow and bureaucratic process with insufficient staff to process the claims

     • Applications been made after people have re-instated their properties - most likely for ++ (see below).


  Whilst the scheme is obviously to be welcomed (you can claim upto £5 000) the practicalities for someone with a flooded property to make good, makes it a less than straightforward matter.

  Any retrospective applications may not be allowed and even if you sort the flood grant out before the builders start work on your property, you don't get payment from EDC until the work is carried out, so you are paying for it upfront and this is not the responsibility of your insurer - but you just want to be back in your property and this is what your insurer/loss adjuster/builder will do.

  Additionally, I have also learnt of someone with a property on Chapel Street who submitted a planning application for flood doors in January 2015 and only gained the approval in January 2016 – yet another hassle and why should such an obvious thing like this need planning approval in the first place?

  Your loss adjuster may be able to advise you on what plp would be best for your property, but will most likely recommend that you have a 'flood survey' completed first (upto £500 + VAT but can be claimed back via the flood grant - all prices quoted as per those on the EDC website) - you just want to be back in your property.

  There are many individual plp's that can be added to your property, from £20-40 for an air brick cover to having your property 'tanked' (£8,210-9,070), but apart from having to find the money to have the work completed in the first place is one thing, applying for the grant and having to wait for it to be approved only serves to delay the time when your builder can get on with any meaningful work and you may even drop down your builder's list (or would be fearful of doing so) - you just want to be back in your property!!

  ++   So as in the case of most, properties have been reinstated and now any plp will be the tinkering at the edges, such as demountable door guards (flood gate) (£500-900) which can be done after you have returned to your property.

  And whilst any plp measures are both obvious and beneficial it isn't going to increase the value of your house - put another way, if you were selling would you tell a prospective buyer that you had spent £x on various plp "so that when it floods again" ....?

  However, to demonstrate a wider discord between insurers, EA and government, a recent BBC article states that according to insurers  'Hundreds of thousands of householders in flood risk areas have failed to install basic protection against rising waters'.

  The article goes on to say that a report from the EA states: 'insurers should not simply re-instate flooded homes to their original state - they should ensure properties are resistant or resilient to future floods. Emma Howard Boyd, who chairs the agency, says: "There is a disconnect between insurance reinstatement and resilient repair of property. "Loss adjustors and builders do not understand the benefits of resilient measures. It is not clear that the insurance industry value property-level resilience or incentivising people to have it." That is despite research suggesting that precautionary measures are extremely good value. The report's main author, Sir Peter Bonfield, points the finger at householders for failing to improve their homes after flooding. He says: "The typical range of [flood-proofing] measures have a cost-benefit ratio in excess of £5 for every £1 invested in terms of reduced damages. "However, there is still relatively low uptake in England - people at high flood risk aren't routinely installing resilience measures in their homes and businesses."

  But the insurers (AIB) replied that: 'the criticism that it failed to future-proof flooded properties was unfair: "The primary role of insurers after a flood is to help get people and businesses back on their feet". They encourage action to reduce the likely impact of future floods - by increasing consumer understanding of risk, urging the government to invest in defences and by supporting property-level resistance and resilience measures.

  But as the article points out, there remains the public. Comments made by people in Devon and Cumbria suggest many reasons why owners of at-risk homes and businesses do not flood-proof their properties are: distrust of builders; inability to get grants unless they have already been flooded; dislike of form-filling; uncertainty about flood protection products; complacency about future flooding; lack of help from insurance companies… or simply (and in many cases most powerfully), they can't get round to it.


 Tourism  -   as with the whole of Cumbria, in Appleby has increased during 2016; but again we need to look a little deeper.

  Initially, following Desmond, bookings where described as having "collapsed" in the county and with this being a £2.62 billion industry in the county, employing many thousands of people, then the impact for the future was potentially significant - but then things changed.

  And this is were Appleby Town Council, EDC, CCC and Cumbria Tourism (Go Lakes) deserve credit in that they have played their part in managing to turn this round and in seeing tourism actually increase - although again only part of the story. From the 'Carols across the river' back in December, to an on-going series of events in the town, Appleby has also benefited from this increase in tourist numbers and have reported that increase has been notable.

  The latest figures revealed a "bumper performance" across the board in June, continuing strongly in July and August. The provisional statistics locally reflect the national trend for staycations amongst the Brits and which with issues such as terrorism abroad and the UK now being seen as a safer option than mainland Europe, especially by American, Chinese and the Japanese, as played a part. Those staycations and increased foreign footfall is also in part due to the fall in the exchange rate following Brexit.

  But another factor, quite unique to Appleby is probably the equal of all the other factors put together - the closure of the Settle to Carlisle (S+C) railway line north of Appleby.

  Suddenly Appleby became a terminus station with all trains heading north terminating in the town (onward travel to Carlisle being by bus). The timing may not have been good for the 'Flying Scotsman' which following its re-fit is back on the rails and now has to go via Newcastle to get to Carlisle (once the S+C is re-opened Appleby should see a boost in visitor numbers as the Scotsman will stop in the town to take on water), but it has proved beneficial for the town. Whilst overall numbers of people using the line may be down, sufficient numbers have used the opportunity to travel north and visit Appleby.

  But what will happen when the line is back open (end of March 2017)? And this is part of the longer term problem, not just for Appleby but also Cumbria as a whole, is keeping those visitor numbers - what impact another flood?


 Other  -   I do not intend to detail everything, but issues such as the bridge having been closed for a prolonged period were significant at the time (especially as it is the only bridge over the river). If you lived on the west side of town, the school trip became a nightmare, live on the east side and need to get into town ... ditto - the detour around is long and arduous. Yet even now (Oct' 2016) one of the things I often hear is "Does anyone know if the bridge was actually damaged?"


  One of the other big factors at the time of the floods was that of the electricity – power outages.

  Much of the town lost its power with 1011 customers cut-off at one point (and was still 153 two days later [7th]) - so even if you were not flooded, you were impacted and it should also be noted that it went off relatively early (1030 hrs) during the Desmond event.

  This loss of power so early into the event shows the current fragility of the essential services and its impact is always significant.

  This issue of resilience to critical infrastructure is one of the ‘recommended actions’ within the FIR and whilst the EA will progress this with Electricity North-West, it is an issue that the community as a whole should be seeking to directly influence  - See U5 - App'3


  The scout hut took a heavy hit, located as it is next to the river and there has been no cricket or football played in the town whilst the grounds and facilities are repaired.

  One of the effects of such floods is the amount of gravel/stone that gets washed down and deposited in the fields, rendering them unusable - a major headache and financial burden to farmers who are also facing increased feed costs as well, damaged walls/fences, etc, etc.

  It should be said that farmers believe that there is too much gravel in the Eden and would like the opportunity to remove it on a ‘little and often’ basis, but are not allowed to do so.

  For those with children who were affected by the flooding then a good source of help and information can be found at:  'Children, young people and flooding'

  To be flooded and have to cope with all that it entails must be devastating and I can only admire the sense of 'getting on with it' and coping - but how much can you take?



WHAT HAPPENS NOW? - How will the town be made more flood resilient?

  In many ways this is an intriguing question ... seemingly very open ended and with a "strong business case" having to be built to secure funding.

  The obvious place to look is in both i and v at the list of actions and recommendations and to be entirely honest it is a little light, with a number of things to be 'considered, investigated and reviewed'.

  After the recovery stage, the next stage was the 'building of community resilience', to be better prepared for future floods and to have a more co-ordinated response when the time comes. Along with the EA, the town council and a flood action group (FLAG) this has, on the face of it, been achieved. Issues remain regarding the flood warning siren, its activation and where it should be sited - but my focus in this report is that of flood defences and what has been described as ''slowing the flow'

  The normal approach (the old way) to flood protection tended to be structural, 'hard engineering' projects such as embankments and flood walls, but times have changed and hence we are now hearing about a 'slow the flow' approach which has become the 'buzz' term. This is principally upstream management and includes schemes such as tree planting, woody/leaky dams and water storage (in various forms), but the hard solutions still have their place, principally as on its own, slowing the flow can not be 'The Answer'.

  Upstream management is not a quick fix and happens over time, a very simple example of this being 'how long does it take a tree to grow to maturity?'

  Firstly though, a look at the current defences and what had been done prior to 2015 (and also refer back to the 'proposal' referred to in 'Appleby v Carlisle' above):

  Current defences comprise mainly of: 130 metres of raised embankment (at the back of the cricket field) and 840 metres of flood walls, but also includes culverts, flood gates, etc and it should not be forgotten that the swimming pool building also forms part of the defences! Obviously a number of properties also have property level protection (plp), mainly on The Sands, but also on Colby Lane.

  As already mentioned it wasn't until 1995 that these 'hard' defences were in place and there has been a chequered history of the town having refused flood defences - examples being:

  The first is taken from the C+W Herald of 21.2.2004. concerning a steering group having been formed in a bid to tackle the problem of flooding on The Sands side of the River.

  "... said the reason the Environment Agency was so sensitive about the subject was because it had met with a lot of hostility from the people of Appleby over its flood defence plan in 1996, which did not materialise because the public did not want it. However, Mr. Potts said that the problem then was that the agency was not willing to negotiate at all."

  and from one question that I put to the EA: "Have the EA investigated the feasibility of flood defences upstream of the main bridge in town so as to prevent flooding of The Sands from this point?"

  Answer  -  "Yes. In 1995 the NRA offered The Sands a scheme but at the time this was rejected by community."  -   this particular question/answer is also covered below.

  What is quite surprising is the fact that sandbags have still played a notable part in flood defences until quite recently, the floods of Desmond possibly being the first occasion when they were not used. Properties on The Sands have plp that includes demountable flood gates, but as recently as 2009 sandbags were put to use and through the years there are many examples, usually reported in the press, bemoaning the lack of sandbags and the time that it took EDC to get them on site. (see app' 3 C1)

  However, their use may still be relied upon in the future as the Appleby Heritage Centre has recently presented two ‘hoppers’ for the quick filling of sandbags to the Appleby Emergency Response Group.


  Moving onto the post Desmond era, firstly, what of the 'hard' defences? Those mentioned in v include: £2.5million of capital funding has been allocated from within the Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Investment Programme. This funding will be used to promote the options for managing flood risk which may include strengthening defences, improving the capacity of watercourses and surface water drains and upstream storage and 'slow the flow' interventions. Provide access to additional national mobile defences.

  Fairly non committal, but within the FIR it includes:

   1.) Review scheme performance and consider what worked well, and where improvements to defences are required

   2.) Investigate potential to improve defences upstream of Appleby Bridge to prevent overtopping and outflanking of defences in St Lawrence Church

   3.) Improve Doomgate drainage system and investigate upstream green field discharge for potential future storage and pumped discharge to River Eden    and

   4.) Promote a flood defence scheme at The Sands. Begin developing business case.

  Looking at each in turn, no announcement as yet been made as to where improvements to defences can be made and whether this would include increasing the protection from that 1:100 year flood. Number two is interesting as any scheme that is designed to improve defences upstream of the bridge will obviously increase the water flow in the river underneath the bridge. Can the bridge take that increase?

  What is also interesting about No's. 2 and 4 is that the town have previously refused such schemes, will they now accept them? When the EA return with their computer models of what happened and what they propose for the future will the town believe them?

  At the flood forum meeting in the town on 27th July 2016 when this was discussed, Peter Metcalfe, a trustee of the bowling club stated his concern about that any barrier built at The Sands to prevent flooding there could channel additional floodwater to the bowls club, he said "That means that my bowling club is going to get hit harder."

  He went on to add that the EA will be aware of where the flooding starts (upstream of the bowls club) and that consideration should be given to the bowls club - he was assured that "nothing is being proposed to make it worse for you." - I mention this point in the final summary, but it reminds me of letter sent to the C+W Herald by A RATEPAYER following the floods of 1928:

 'APPLEBY FLOOD VICTIMS'   - Sir, ... where are our Councillors? Are they more concerned with the flooded bowling green than the inhabitants of the borough they represent? - Yours, etc.'

  The issue then was the lack of action regarding the unsanitary conditions for many residents in the town following the floods. Now in 2016 the issue of protecting the bowls club (which Metcalfe [and others?] would appear to place above protecting properties elsewhere in the town) is a subject still very much alive along with the recent efforts (merited) in attempting to have Eden Side re-opened.


  Number three is both an obvious and essential improvement and one which has been known about for some years, but is an improvement an actual cure of this particular problem. But what has previously been done with this culvert? The following questions were put to the EA:

  1.) "What level of investigation was carried out into the issue of the culvert (was it identified as a potential major issue?) and was a design fix identified?"

  Answer  -  "A study was completed which identified the scale of the problem and informed an appraisal for the project which was submitted to our Medium Term Plan for FCRM Investment. Due to the low cost-benefit scoring of the project, it never progressed further through the funding system. Yes a design fix was identified, but due to the high cost, it wasn’t progressed."

  2.) "If a design fix was identified what was it and what was the costing?"

  Answer  -  "A potential solution was identified to construct new upstream storage, refurbish the culvert system and construct a pumping station on Holme Street. It was estimated to cost nearly £3M."

  3.) "If a design fix was identified why wasn’t it carried out?"

  Answer  -  "The project could not attract funding due to its low cost-benefit ratio meaning the works could not be carried out."

  Quite clearly Doomgate Culvert is an issue that requires a fix. I don't even live in Appleby yet would suggest that it is a major issue, yet funding to actually implement the fix and give some peace of mind to all those that it affects is an additional issue in itself and one would have to ask, "If this was Carlisle, Kendal or even Penrith, would it have been already completed?" But to me one of the more curious answers to a question that I have asked of the EA is below, first the question:

  4.) "Recommended actions in the current draft FIR merely state “Improve Doomgate drainage system” – will this be the first time that this has been a recommended action and what are the ‘improvements’ and are they expected to prevent the surcharging?"

  The curious answer was   -  "The Doomgate Flood Risk Management Scheme has become more achievable over recent years for the following reasons:

  A.) In the intervening years, Doomgate culvert has been refurbished. This reduces the cost of providing the identified potential solution.

  B.) The new Partnership Funding process for FCRM Funding will allow the community of Appleby (or other groups/agencies/organisations) to raise any shortfall in funds if they wish for the works to go         ahead.

  C.) The Government has announced “Booster funds” to help fund this scheme as well."

  When I then asked the EA what the reduced cost of the solution would be (answer 'A' and which they stated had previously been estimated at £3 million) they replied: "the cost is not yet known, this is the project which is currently being undertaken, part of that work will be to establish the cost."

  And for answer 'C' the 'booster funds' have been mentioned above - the £6.5m to be shared out between Appleby, Eamont Bridge, Wigton, Pooley Bridge, Rickerby Park and Gamblesby.

  But answer 'B' should raise suspicion and the hackles and hence I have asked the EA the following question and which is naturally commented upon in the final summary:

  "In relation to the answer at B – could you expand upon this please – what would the shortfall be? (be it as a % of the total cost), why would there be a shortfall in the first place? How and to whom would ‘they’ pay the shortfall – would this be prior to or upon completion of the work?"

  Answer  -  "We do not yet know the cost of any works at Doomgate. DEFRA funds flood defence works on the basis of the numbers of properties benefiting from that work against the cost of undertaking those works; a cost benefit ratio. If the cost benefit ratio is too low then the scheme is not fully funded by DEFRA. At that point there is a shortfall between the money that DEFRA will provide to pay for works and the cost of carrying out those works. The EA is then required to identify partnership contributions from beneficiaries or 3rd parties to bridge that shortfall. This is a major aspect of how DEFRA sees flood risk works being funded in the future. The work to assess what should be done at Doomgate and the cost benefit of those works is currently underway. Once that work is done we will understand if a shortfall exists and the need or otherwise for partnership contributions to deliver these works."

  But why would a design fix (and to that end, other potential schemes) for the culvert 'not attract funding due to its low cost-benefit ratio'? An interesting question and one that I consider in the final summary.


  One of the issues not raised in the FIR or action plan is gravel extraction and this is one issue where there is disagreement between the town and the EA. At the flood forum this was one of the main issues put forward by 'the town' and terms such as 'clogging the river' and "we've never seen as much gravel on that side of the bridge" being made.

  But the EA begged to differ stating that in comparison to 2014 the river bed on one side was about 1m lower and that gravel levels were in fact lower, but that "where it makes a difference we will remove it".

  The lowering of the river bed is to be welcomed as it will naturally increase the flow of the river and its capacity and is in some ways nature doing what was proposed in the 1970's as an engineered solution (as above in Appleby v Carlisle) - but on this issue I must agree with the EA.

  The natural lowering of the river bed has simply meant that areas of gravel are now just more visible and gravel extraction is really an on-going maintenance issue and removal of what has built up (or is now just visible) downstream of the bridge is not greatly going to affect matters at present.

  Whereas the gravel that as built up near the swimming pool does need removing and my understanding is that this will now be done in 2017. Albeit this again is just a natural build up and comes under the general maintenance criteria.

  This issue was brought up again at the Appleby Town Council meeting in October and reported in the C+W Herald under the headline of 'Agency [EA] slammed over failure to dredge river at Appleby'. Whilst I can appreciate the frustration of believing that a job needs to be done and isn't, I can't share the rationale and as I will mention in the summary - if you only set your objectives this high, you may just find that the EA will do as you ask and no more and then claim to have done everything that the town asked (just take a look at what happened on the River Parrett in Somerset)  -  See U2 - App'3



  Upstream Management and Slowing the flow -  generally speaking this will take two forms, tree planting and water storage (in various forms), but will also (possibly) include smaller scale projects such as woody/leaky dams, etc (the appendix shows various methods) - but the overriding question will always be, can the flow be slowed sufficiently?

  At the bottom of this report are numerous photographs showing a selection of different techniques.

  The EA accept that ‘Slowing the flow in rivers is likely to require adjustment to management practices (%) in both urban and rural settings and the Catchment Directors appointed under the Cumbria Floods Partnership (CFP) are mindful that any approaches will require the input, support and agreement of farmers and land owners to be successful.'

  When peak flows were the highest in the history of the recording stations on the Eden (installed in the 1960's), this aspect will be one of the biggest challenges. One of the most heard quotes [from CEH] regarding Desmond was that on the Eden the flow was equivalent to

     "...41 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water ... every minute, a rate that would fill the Royal Albert Hall in less than a minute".

  That challenge will not just be an engineering challenge but also in engaging the local communities and showing that it can work, as well as persuading farmers and land owners to change land management methods and introduce new techniques.

  In relation to water storage, the action plan only states that 'Explore (5+ years): implement opportunities for natural flood risk management and engineered storage upstream of Appleby.' So no commitment and on a much longer timescale and hence no announcement as yet been made by the EA.

  This slowing the flow is not an entirely new concept and is even mentioned in 'C' above from the EA in 2009 and has been put into practice elsewhere in the country, possibly most notably in Pickering and can be viewed at  'Pickering Flood Defence Scheme'

  However, the EA were asked:

  "What upstream management (of Appleby) has taken place with the primary objective being downstream flood alleviation in the last 10 years?"

  Answer  -  "No flood risk works have taken place upstream of Appleby in the last 10 years (with the intention of reducing flood risk in Appleby)."

  So quite clearly, apart from possibly bringing best practices from schemes elsewhere in the country, locally and for Appleby, Desmond is the starting point and it really is a case of beginning from scratch.

  One of the obvious locations for water storage is in the area of Colby Lane as part of the solution to the Doomgate Culvert and mentioned by the EA in their answer regarding the design fix to the culvert. The basic idea of what this would like can be seen in the scheme at Pickering or even something similar to the project at Thacka Beck in Penrith.


  However, such a scheme on Colby Lane would only be a small scale project compared to what is required for the River Eden.


  Moving on to the Eden itself and its various tributaries, at the outset I must confess that I personally can not see such a major capital project as engineered water storage going ahead - the logistics would be frightening and the cost alone would surely preclude such a scheme. ££ I also come to this conclusion based on some of the points mentioned below (something confirmed to me as after having typed up these comments I then received answers from the EA to several questions, one of which, below, gives their current thinking on engineered storage) - but that does not mean that nothing should be done and as part of a range of schemes, even a medium scale water storage scheme would make some difference. Interestingly the EA in their answer refer to 'extreme flood events', but for a town like Appleby that is subject to frequent flooding of various degrees, then engineered upstream water storage would be an useful addition to the solution.

  Firstly the EA were asked this rather straightforward question:

  "What locations upstream of Appleby have been identified as potential water storage sites and could you give details of capacity and calculated downstream benefits."

  Answer  -  "To date, none."

  However, the EA must have had something in mind immediately following Desmond as their staff were in the town and told local farmers that they would be

  "Coming to speak to you about water storage on your land."

  So the EA were asked: "In the intervening 9 months how many farmers have you spoken to about water storage on their land and what was the outcome?"

  Answer  -  "To date the majority of engagement with the farming community across all the catchments has been via the National Farmers Union and a local Cumbria based charity called The Farmer Network. This was an initial phase of engagement to gauge initial views and involved 16 farmers across the Eden and 6 upstream of Appleby. A second, more extensive phase of engagement is being planned to engage with farmers across the catchment. To support this other organisations are developing a modelling tool to indicate which approaches are likely to be most effective at holding water back temporarily in the catchment. This is nearing completion and will be used to aid discussions with farmers and landowners. Natural England are also looking at how the Countryside Stewardship Scheme can be used to support farmers who are interested in installing natural flood management features on their land."

  But then I become confused!

  On page 12 of C from 2009, the EA's own document, in relation to the Upper and Middle Eden, it states:

  "Storage of flood waters would provide limited benefit to reducing flood risk across the catchment."

  And so the following was put to the EA: "As with [the question above regarding the No. of farmers spoken to] and the general 'slow the flow' approach, which is stated to include several facets including water storage - has the approach of the EA now changed and if so, how, or is the policy still that as of 2009?"

  Answer  -  "The wording of the 2009 plan was worded with engineered flood storage basins in mind and it is still the case that engineered storage and other techniques to slow the flow would still have limited impact against the most extreme flood events. However it is fair to say that thinking is evolving and there is a shared desire to explore what can be achieved by managing water across a catchment. In the initial phases it is likely that the majority of slow the flow techniques will be employed in smaller sub catchments, upstream of communities at risk; where they are considered to be more successful. An example of such work is taking place at Stockdalewath on the Roe and Ive catchment"

  So whilst it may be the case of 'thinking is evolving', this answer would suggest that engineered water storage upstream of Appleby is not going to happen and is certainly not in the current thinking of the EA. And yet they refer to 'Managing the Catchment' without having plans for any schemes upstream of Appleby which is the main catchment for the Eden!

  However, in the answer above they do state: "... are developing a modelling tool to indicate which approaches are likely to be most effective at holding water back temporarily in the catchment" - so work is being done, they just don't state what those 'approaches' may be and would always remind anyone that this is a 25 year plan.

  But when the term ‘falling on already saturated ground’ was used adnauseam last year, the question that was put by one farmer to the EA who showed them a photograph of his flooded land is somewhat relevant – “tell me how my land can hold anymore water?”

  It would certainly appear that any such schemes upstream of Appleby will be a long way off and that the EA themselves are not fully engaged in the process and their answers seems to suggest that they only see limited benefits in slowing the flow. (%)

  The Eden has a large catchment area and maybe this [possible] view of the EA matches what others believe (see the section below on the thoughts of the CEH) and if the river is passing through Appleby in raging torrents, what difference will a few trees and woody dams make?

  Curiously though the plans for slowing the flow in sub catchments are all in the vicinity of Carlisle and nothing is upstream of Appleby (yet?).

  There is nothing on the High Street and Aisgill escarpments above Mallerstang where numerous becks feeds into the Eden, nothing for Ladthwaite Beck or Rigg Beck which join the Eden above Kirkby Stephen having come from off the fells.

  One possible location is Sandford Mire, a location suggested by a local farmer, commenting that: “Sandford Mire – that could be made into a good reservoir”.

  Sandford Mire has been restored to its former glory by the Cumbria Wetland Project with 45 hectares of wetland having been restored. This was due to the use of sensitive farm management that raised water levels to create small pools of water.

  And then there is nothing for Swindale Beck either above or below Brough or the River Belah or its tributaries which rise on Stainmore and joins the Eden between Kirkby Stephen and Appleby.



  They also don’t add if the farmers have been supportive or not and whether the countryside stewardship scheme would apply to such schemes and if it would be fully funded.

  So I approached both 'The Farmers Network' (a 'not for profit organisation') and the NFU for a response to having been mentioned by the EA in their answer above and the Farmers Network stated:

  "Nothing much further to add to EA’s answers at this stage. We are part of the Cumbria Flood Management Group and are currently engaged in discussions with EA, Natural England and the Rivers Trusts on this very live issue. We hope some funding may come available to work with the fore- mentioned organisations and local farmers within the Eden Catchment to start trialling NFM techniques."

  11 months on and the farmers are still left in a position of not knowing what is wanted or expected from them and crucially that they "hope some funding may come available"  -  11 months on and we are still hoping!

  From the meetings that the NFU held some of the views expressed by farmers were:

   • Great concern about the amount of gravel accumulated in watercourses, and the need for this to be addressed strategically for each watercourse to complement other measures which might be taken forward.

   • Concern and confusion about what farmers are or are not allowed to do themselves, whether or not permission is required for various tasks (e.g. gravel removal, bank maintenance including tree management) and the process to gain permission where necessary.

   • A wish to see efforts made by farmers matched by others e.g. if farmers are instigating initiatives to slow the flow, what can be done in towns to prevent future building on flood plains, mitigate the effect of paving gardens, run off from roofs etc.


  And some of their views on which were their preferred slow the flow techniques were:

  Tree Planting in Riparian Zone was one of the most favoured whilst the least preferred option was tree planting in floodplains due to the fact that this would render meadow land useless for the production of winter forage.

  Flood plain reconnection was a cause for concern due to the potential to further compromise meadow land, which in many areas already floods regularly.

  In most places farmers felt that the nature of their local river made remeandering ineffective, and in addition felt it was a very costly option. Whilst they observed that some features are naturally occurring e.g. off-line flood storage areas and that some of these may have the potential to be enhanced.

  ‘On-Line Flood Plain Storage Areas’ are potentially one of the most effective options, but the views of the farmers were, that whilst the merit of this option was appreciated, the options were considered limited in the upland areas concerned, not least due to the value of meadow land.

  Some specific existing instances were also noted, along with the fact that much of the land alongside rivers regularly floods currently, but farmers accept this because the water does not generally lie on the land for long enough to damage the meadows. However there can still be a cost attached.

  And therein lies one of the issues, mentioned in the final summary, that farmers ‘have already given up what they’re willing to give up’ and to take more land from them, especially valuable land, is going to require a strong financial incentive.


  Going back to the scheme at Pickering, it is described as being 'pioneering' and 'With a powerful mix of austerity and cost benefit analysis virtually precluding rural areas from flood defence funding, this is an excellent example of the Environment Agency and other agencies working with the community to provide a locally funded and cost effective scheme that could be used in many other remote flood hit communities, while also reducing the scale (and therefore huge cost) of large downstream urban schemes.'

  Could something similar work for Appleby?

  After all the Pickering scheme was credited with reducing peak flow by upto 20% during December 2015, so the EA were asked:

     "Whilst there are both differences and similarities with the river Eden and Appleby, is this a typical example/prototype of the upstream management envisaged for the Eden?"

  Answer  -  "Pickering is a good example of how a catchment based approach has been used in conjunction with a more standard EA flood storage basin. The use of the catchment based approach reduced the size of the storage basin required in Pickering (resulting in a cost saving for the EA part of the scheme, which cost in the region of £1.25 million). It is also worth bearing in mind that Pickering is only defended to a 1:25 year standard, lower than that of the flood defence scheme in Appleby. It is also important to know that flood flows in Pickering are in the region of 10m3/s – flood flows in Appleby are far greater than this as you know."

  Personally, my own thoughts are that whilst there are similarities between Pickering and Appleby, the differences may just be too large. Firstly it is a beck and not a river that flows through Pickering and the catchment area for Pickering at 66 km2 is vastly smaller than that of the Eden.

  How big a scheme would be needed for Appleby?

  Could you imagine that it would be a case of 'not attracting funding due to its low cost-benefit ratio'?

  And of course location is important. Whilst there may be scope for some water storage between Kirkby Stephen and Appleby, the needs of Kirkby Stephen will also have to be taken into consideration. Even if a location could be found in Mallerstang it would have the added hurdle of requiring approval from NE as the valley now falls into the newly extended Yorkshire Dales National Park.

  These type of schemes cost millions and whilst the Carlisle action plan does include upstream water storage, the cost benefit ratios are more favourable here than at Appleby (basically more properties are at risk of flooding) and if it was to become a matter of choice between the Doomgate Culvert and the Eden then possibly the money would be better spent on the (complete) design fix for the culvert.


  Tree Planting is another fascinating aspect of 'slowing the flow', but which is a long term land management project and will not give immediate benefits. Additionally those long-term benefits are not yet fully understood and subject of research, namely by CEH.

  In Vi you could virtually miss the line of 'Plant trees in ghylls and wet areas at Mallerstang, upstream of Appleby', work it says will be performed by the WT and NE, albeit the general theme of tree planting being used to slow the flow is reasonably well covered elsewhere.

  So what work is being done?

  Here I must confess a degree of duplicity on my part for I had approached the WT and NE about the work, got my answers and then asked the EA:

  "The ‘Cumbria Flood Action Plan – Appleby Community Action Table’ mentions ‘Upstream management actions’ of planting trees in Mallerstang – could you let me have some details on this, including costings and what % of the Eden Catchment area will be covered by trees?"

  Answer  -  "This work has not been undertaken yet."

  (A) "Does the cost of this come from the £6.5m of government funding for projects in the Eden catchment?"

  Answer  -  "The catchment based works would not be funded through the £6.5 million." ##

  (B) "The above action plan only mentions the planting of trees, are additional projects such as woody/leaky dams earmarked for Mallerstang or elsewhere upstream of Appleby?"

  Answer  -  "The work to work out the benefits of the measures described here has not yet been completed. It can also take many years for measures of this nature to deliver the desired benefits and as such they often need to be complimentary to more conventional forms of flood risk management."

  The answer of "This work has not yet been undertaken yet" is quite simply a lazy, can not be bothered answer - the work has been on-going for the last five years and is funded by the partner organisations involved, one of which is a charity!

  But how it came to be in the action plan is another story and probably why the EA gave their lazy answer, but I will save that for the final summary.

  Tree planting in Mallerstang is an excellent project, but unfortunately not well known outside of the valley and within the circles of the WT and NE - It should be - see App 3 update 1.

  It needs more help and publicity and the backing of the relevant authorities to promote it and to use it for a full scale research project into the benefits of tree planting and scrub creation for slowing the flow. It is however a delicate balance between maintaining the 'natural' landscape of the valley, which has just become part of the YDNP and yet doing justice to the project - a short video of the project is available here: 'Trees For Water'

  There are two planting schemes at Mallerstang, one is complete and the other is still in the planning stage.

  East Mallerstang was completed in 2014 and covers 89 hectares, the latest proposals, which are now at the application stage (for hearing at the end of 2016) are for West Mallerstang and covers 267 hectares.

  The aim of these projects under a 'Countryside Stewardship Agreement' is to take land out of use to create areas of scrub to help improve soil structure, improve water quality, slow water run-off, promote bio-diversity and provide habitat for birds on the common.

  This requires the installation of temporary fencing to allow the scrub to become established; basically to stop sheep from getting in to the areas and eating that what has been planted. The farmers/land owners then receive a payment for having taken their land out of use with the initial agreement being for 15 years.

  The YDNP (NE) are supportive of the scheme whilst EDC tend not to comment. However, it has not been met with the complete complicity of the farmers, indeed it has been a struggle.

  In the draft proposal for the East side in 2014 it states: 'Scrub planting will contribute to a level of carbon sequestration directly (through uptake of carbon within stems) and indirectly (through soils protection / enhancement). In the context of soils management, planting trees will help to stabilise the soil structure, improve soil strength and increase percolation of rainwater. Trees intercept a degree of rain water (particularly when in leaf) allowing for a degree of evaporation as well as reducing the impact of rainfall at ground level. Roots aid the absorption of rain water into the soil aiding to slower water run-off and proffering river management benefits downstream, including mitigating against flood risk.'

  It is generally accepted that the scheme on the east side targeted bio-diversity.

  However, in the introduction of the proposal document it outlines the primary reason for the project, stating:

  'The primary aim for the proposals outlined in this document is to create areas of scrub to provide habitat for birds on the common. This requires the installation of temporary fencing to allow the scrub to become established' in particular 'an improvement of habitat for black grouse, a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species which is in decline.'

  This was given a large degree of coverage in the C+W Herald at the time, with some local residents being against the scheme.

  Possibly an indication of how such schemes have 'moved up the agenda' is demonstrated in the latest draft proposal for the west side as it now states:

  'The scheme is intended to have multiple benefits including Natural Flood Management and increasing biodiversity. Post Storm Desmond a lot of effort has been placed into finding ways of reducing the impact of high rainfall events and it is felt that strategic planting within the uplands will have a positive contribution to make. This scheme offers significant potential both practically and in terms of future research. In addition, scrub creation will improve habitat for black grouse, a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species, and other wildlife. The primary aim for the proposals outlined in this document is to create three large and two smaller areas of scrub to provide habitat for birds on the common and to help improve soil structure. This requires the installation of temporary fencing to allow the scrub to become established'

  However, NE would be the first to admit that regardless of Storm Desmond the scheme would have still gone ahead and they also add that the woodland gill planting project on Ravenstonedale Common (also awaiting a decision from Planning Inspectorate but at the final stages now) also affects the River Eden in part. Some of the gills feed into the Eden via Scandal beck, although most go into the Lune catchment.

  But do such schemes actually make a difference to slowing the flow? Firstly this was the opinion of NE:

  Answer  -  "This [West Mallerstang] should help with retaining water in the longer term but the question is how much land area do we need covered in trees/scrub/deep heather to really make a difference in a high rainfall event? I suspect we will need more than 8-10% that we are hoping to achieve on these Commons. 20-25% might really make some difference. I think this is achievable but it would require a shift in farmer attitude, funding and legislation to make it an easier process."

  And therein lies one of the issues with this aspect of slowing the flow - is enough been done? Also as the WT pointed out, the trees that will be planted in Mallerstang will take 20 years to reach maturity.

  Also see appendix 3

                            The CEH are the specialists in this area and what they say is important

    But it was only as recent as the end of June 2016 that the CEH announced a systematic review into the benefits that trees could have in reducing the impact of flooding.

  The CEH stated that "The project addresses an urgent need to provide a clear and robust evidence base on the links between the presence of trees in British catchments and flood flows in rivers. The results of the evidence assessment will support decision and policy makers, and will guide future research activity."

  CEH scientists have been involved with work at research catchments including Pontbren, which on the afforestation issue suggested “infiltration [of rain water] in forested areas being 60 times more than in grassland.”

  The belief of the benefits have been discussed and suggested at for a long time and it must be said that their effectiveness is widely debated, reflecting the diversity of evidence and expert opinion and hence the reason for the review.

  Professor Alan Jenkins, Deputy Director of CEH and Director, Water & Pollution Science, said, “There is still much to learn about the effectiveness of natural flood management techniques. For this reason scientists at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology will carry out a systematic review to provide evidence of whether river floods can be reduced by the use of natural flood management mechanisms, such as the of planting trees” -  The review is expected to report by the end of November 2016.

  In undertaking their systematic review, CEH have become increasingly aware of the importance of the context of each study and the need to capture these details. Thus it has been more appropriate to focus on the development of a comprehensive database of evidence. The database importantly captures contextual detail of each study to enable more detailed analysis to answer many different questions into the future. An additional benefit is that the database can be easily updated with future studies. However, this is a major undertaking that will not be complete in the short term. A more immediate deliverable will be a narrative review of evidence of a possible link between trees and floods and this is expected by the end of March 2017.

  Back in January of 2016 this issue of the benefits trees have in flood alleviation was gaining some publicity and on the 6th the CEH gave a background press briefing on the science behind flooding.

  As some aspects of the briefing are relevant to the river Eden and hence Appleby, I will repeat some of the Q+A here and it should be remembered that the catchment area for the Eden is a large one:

  Initially they described some of the various methods that can be employed and then the discussion moved onto the role of different types of upland management techniques. This was in response to a question about whether upland management could have reduced the flows seen during the extreme rainfall in the uplands during December 2015, the CEH said:

  "There is very little published scientific evidence that changes in the way we manage the uplands would have helped to reduce the flood impact in those flooded areas over the last few weeks."

  They then went on to explain why they held this view:

  "…although there's very little documented scientific evidence that different upland management would have helped, we were not saying that planting trees, or blocking drains, or removing sheep, would not have prevented flooding. We simply don't have the evidence to say that removing the sheep, covering the uplands with trees and building beaver dams, or having beavers build dams, would or would not have prevented the recent extreme flooding. Based on the published scientific evidence we don't yet know the answer."

  When asked if it was a lack of evidence, or that they suspected that it wouldn't be beneficial [or of]... consequence, the CEH replied that it is to 'do with scale and magnitude' and that a crucial point is the scale at which these kinds of scheme can operate and provide some kind of mitigation against flood peaks, and they will work in local and small catchments.

  They can provide some reduction in the flood peak or a slowing down of some of the water in local areas. They added that it is also about the magnitude of the event, so they will work probably for events that are less extreme. However the more extreme events will overcome all of those sorts of schemes, and they'll cease to be effective on a large catchment scale for these very big events.

  They went on to add that such measures would have some effect on some smaller flood peaks, but in more extreme events then local scale measures weren’t going to make much difference, stressing the need for flood management and that this management was about 'a basket of measures' and warned against reading too much into the results from Pontbren, stating that "the result is important ... the additional infiltration is very useful, but just because water goes into the soil doesn't meant that that's problem solved."

  In conclusion they state:

  ‘Natural flood management is one of those things that is 'no regrets', to use climate parlance. So we think that, although the evidence is limited, that on a big catchment scale, those measures will mitigate flooding, it is very likely that they will have some beneficial effect and that they will also have a lot of other positive environmental benefits. So it makes good sense to look into those policies where one can.’

  The essence may be just be how big those ’beneficial effects’ are and in Appleby's case would it just amount to low level flooding on The Sands and not for the larger magnitude floods?

  The issue of funding (payments to landowners and farmers along with the actual cost of the measures) ££ for these techniques is still in its infancy, yet at this stage it would seem both obvious and generally accepted that there are benefits in scrub creation, peat control/creation, bog (mossy) pools, tree planting, etc - it's is just a case of how big those benefits are and whether they are cost effective.


  Some of the 'other techniques' that will no doubt be suggested as being able to hold the water back temporarily in the catchment will include: grass bunding, hedge and dyke creation, soil aeration, natural culverting across small streams and I suspect along with drainage and including issues such as soil compaction (prevention) and soil quality - also see the appendix.

  Even without slowing the flow techniques, how land is used and farmed will play a part, but this will require some degree of change in working practices and attitudes and yet it is now that the opportunity exists to create that 'basket of measures'.

  And as The Farmers Network themselves will say, "A farm by farm approach using some or any of these techniques where appropriate will help across the whole Eden catchment to contribute to a much larger catchment scheme. The key to this is the relationship between farmers, the agencies and local communities working together."

  However, as is widely known, discussed and certainly widely reported across the media at present, is that the relationships between those agencies and the farming community is at an all-time low at the moment.

  It will take much work from those agencies working alongside the NFU and organisations such as The Farmer Network to bring those relationships back to something meaningful.

  It will need trust and a clear commitment as to what is required and can be achieved and working as a meaningful partnership.

  The reality is that it is a tough ask, yet it can be achieved so long as everyone involved can get past the “them and us” scenario that is the current position.

  From discussions with farmers, they want to play a positive role in catchment flood management, but they will not do this to the detriment of their own land and farming business’s and as they would say "The reality is that we can't afford to do it."

  Hence the need for partnership, agreement and trust  -   then there is the public, the residents and business owners in the flooded communities. They will need to have confidence and engagement in these processes and at present this appears to be negligible. They can see a defence wall, they can see gravel being removed, new drains been built - but a 25 year plan to plant some trees and dig a few ditches! First of all the benefits need to be fully understood, but then it needs wholesale engagement and that must include the authorities taking the public with them.




  "We've flooded before and we'll flood again" is a comment that seems to be regularly aired in the town, the last time being in a letter to the editor of the C+W Herald from a town councillor concerning the then proposed closure of the Eden Side care home.

  Reality? Honest? Not shying away from the issue? - the answer would be "Yes" to them all, but is it also avoiding the issue of finally securing flood defences for the town that are truly fit for purpose?

  "We are working as hard as we can, we can't build a scheme until we understand what happened, it's as simple as that." and "We can't build a scheme on half the story."

  What Catherine Evans of the EA told the audience at the flood forum meeting in July - thorough? Honest? Offering real hope for the future based on solid evidence?

  Or just indifference and delay - a fob off? An organisation that can not be trusted to come up with and implement solutions and who despite the long history of flooding in the town, along with the recent parallels, still do not have a grasp of the issues?

  And what about "... the project could not attract funding due to its low cost benefit ratio" - when the EA did identify a design fix for one of the main causes of flooding in the town?

  Is it a case that Appleby is simply not important enough?

  Just a backwater town with a small population that is just going to have to get on with it? After all, it has a strong history of having done so, so why not again ... and again ... and again?

  But then what has the town offered by way of suggestions to the problems? A town that has previously refused flood defences and now seems to be only concerned about the amount of gravel in the river and still worried about any defences affecting the bowls club.

  What are the answers? Do any exist? Will Appleby become known as the town that always floods or the town that took ownership of the issue and did something about it?

  Surely now the time has come for the town itself to take the matter into its own hands, to lobby, to question, to pressurise - to put the same amount energy into its flood defences as it did in attempting to prevent the closure of Eden Side.

  But also for the EA (Defra) and its partners and government to be honest and to make available the funds, the full amount, to alleviate as far as possible against the recurring demon that seemingly taunts the town.

  Yes floods will always be a constant threat, particularly on The Sands, the most vulnerable part of town, but they can be alleviated against and now after Desmond surely the time has come, if only to better protect a greater proportion of the town?

  Yes the town is certainly not in denial of its flooding history and its current vulnerability and will always claim to have the spirit, the resilience and that it has "Bounced back before", but now a nervousness pervades.

  However, you can never bounce back further than the point from which you started and eventually that 'bounce' would only amount to 'Dead Cat Bounce' and the future prosperity of the town will always be on hold.


  Firstly let's not forget that Appleby is not just an insignificant backwater town with a small population that isn't in the national parks of the Yorkshire Dales or Lake District, but that it is an important and historic town in its own right - the county town of Westmorland.

  And in act that should be applauded, Historic England in its 'Heritage at Risk' programme has announced the addition of Appleby Conservation Area and Appleby Castle Stable Block to the national Heritage at Risk register.

  Historic England stated that the winter floods of 2015 caused "significant damage to Appleby" and their research recorded that 121 historic assets were affected within the Appleby flood zone. Following advice from Historic England, EDC’s planning team undertook the work necessary which identified that Appleby Conservation Area met the relevant criteria for inclusion on the Heritage at Risk register.

  Charles Smith, principal adviser for Heritage at Risk for Historic England, said: “Appleby is a town richly steeped in heritage which has suffered disproportionately from recent floods. Placing the Appleby Conservation Area on the register will help us to focus attention on delivering solutions for those historic properties most under threat, which in turn will support the economic prosperity of the town as a whole.”

  A full article can be read here:  'Appleby's Heritage To Be Protected'.


  But I feel that first I must make clear my aim and intention in compiling this report - I have an interest in our local weather, both current and historical (which my website will surely testify to along with monthly contributions to 'The Cumbria Weather Report' and occasional articles in 'Weather Eye') and on my website is a dedicated page to the history of Appleby's weather.

  Following the Desmond event I researched the historical flooding of the town and then saw the FIR for the town. The draft contained numerous inaccuracies and some quite clear 'copy and paste' sections from other sources (yes, I'm also guilty of that!) and I just thought that I could add something to the process.

  When I then started to get into the research and asking questions it then became clear that some things needed to be said and pointed out.

  This is not an exercise in trying to proportion blame. In all the organisations and authorities involved there are a lot of good people with good intentions, working very hard - but where and when I feel that comment needs to be made, I will make it and hopefully my comments would be ones that any independent person would make when looking at the facts.

  I see this has an opportunity to help in the process of engagement between all involved, to encourage and to promote a honest dialogue - to tell it as it is and that may involve a certain degree of critique.

  The obvious place to start is that of whether Appleby is adequately protected against flooding and whether enough is being done or proposed - my simple answer would be - at present it doesn't appear to be.

  Appleby's current flood defences are designed to protect against a 1 in 100 year flood and there is nothing that the EA have said or done to suggest that this will change (likewise you could argue that they haven't said that it won't).

  The following questions were put to the EA with the pre-amble of: "As you will be aware the current flood defences in Appleby are designed for the 1:100 year flood, does the EA:

  1.) "Consider that this is at the most appropriate level? If yes, why? If no – see No.2"

  Answer  -  "Generally speaking 1 in 100 years is the DEFRA standard for new flood defences. In Cumbria however many communities have experienced floods that have exceeded this and these flood events often form the basis of new flood defence schemes (i.e. Carlisle after 2005 – new scheme was built to the level of the 2005 flood)."

  2.) "Have any plans to strengthen the current defences beyond that level, eg: 1:150 year, 1:200 year - if NO, why? If YES - what plans, costings, timescales, etc have been devised."

  Answer  -  "See response to 3a."

  3.) Have the EA previously conducted any work into strengthening the existing flood defences in Appleby beyond the 1:100 yr probability? If YES – what was the outcome, inc’ proposals, costings, etc and why were they not carried out?"

  Answer  -   no answer was given - instead an answer was given to the question below (3a)

  a.) The recent Flood Investigation Report mentions promotion of a flood defence scheme for The Sands – what level of AEP would that be to?

  Answer  -  "That depends on what is affordable, acceptable to the community and technically feasible. We don’t yet know if it is possible to defend the whole town to the flood levels experienced in Storm Desmond, or whether there is another defence standard that could be applied across the town."


  The answer to No.1 is an answer to a question that I didn't ask and hence appears to be an attempt to avoid answering the question! A simple yes or no would have sufficed with a follow up explanation.

  And of course the answer shows that Carlisle got new improved defences, yet in the FIR for Appleby following Desmond, it stated that the 2005 flood in the town was of a 0.1% AEP (rarer than the current 1.0% AEP defences), yet it did not see new defences built to match this level of flood event!

  The EA know that it is not just 2015 that has seen this threshold (1.0% EAP) exceeded and in Appleby it is nine times in the last 250 years - a more honest answer would have been something like:-  'No, but increasing the level of flood protection beyond the 1:100 year level would have to be assessed on its effectiveness, and resultant cost-benefit - and it doesn't look good'.

  And honesty is one of the key elements, without that we are back to the previous stand-offs between the town and the EA/Defra.

  The answer is also curious because Defra was created in 2001 and Appleby's current defences were built in 1995 after years of planning (talking!), but along with the virtually missing answers to No's 2+3, it is quite clear that there is no commitment and indeed immediate plans to improve upon the current 1:100 level. If the EA did propose any new flood schemes for the town, such as on The Sands, the inference is that it would only be to a 1:100 yr level and this makes me wonder if as in the previous answers regarding the funding of the Doomgate Culvert, would Defra 'allow the community of Appleby (or other groups/agencies/organisations) to raise any shortfall in funds if they wish for the works to go ahead?'

  The answer to 3a is again curious, although at least honest, because this one scheme is one of the central planks of the flood action plan. However, the answer seems to be anticipating problems, namely funding and the attitude and acceptance of the town to whatever maybe proposed and one just wonders if any scheme for The Sands is already doomed to fall by the wayside.

  But if you are a business owner on The Sands with a £15 000 excess on your insurance then you would undoubtedly want a scheme to go ahead - what is more important, the future viability of the town or the bowls club?

  But then again the more honest answer for The Sands might simply be to build defences to the equivalent of the 1:10 or 1:20 yr flood. Basically to give protection against the low level, but high frequency repeat floods, to keep the overall cost down, be less obtrusive, the road flood free and the town moving in those low level floods - is the reality simply that this part of town is virtually undefendable and that apart from the best possible plp for the properties involved, it should not be protected to the possible detriment of the rest of the town?

  This is one of the issues that quite clearly has the potential to cause upset within and amongst the town itself and then the EA will somehow have to navigate their way through this and like on previous occasions, the time may come when the EA have spent time, money and resources on developing a realistic proposal and the town says "No."

  It must surely by now be accepted that Appleby is not adequately protected against flooding and in question 1 above the EA avoided giving an answer/opinion which really is not good enough. The historical record of flooding in the town fully demonstrates the repeated nature of flooding and that a more serious flood is never too far away and yet already no-one is seemingly prepared to offer any hope over and above a 25 year plan of attempting to slow the flow of the river before it arrives at Appleby.

  However, there must surely be one aspect of flood defence work that the whole town can agree upon, campaign for, if not demand and protest in the strongest possible terms for - the implementation of the design fix to Doomgate Culvert fully funded at no additional cost to the community or others, fully implemented and as a priority.

  When the EA discovered the issue and designed the 'potential' solution they were being pro-active, only for the scheme to fail at very much its first hurdle - funding!

  When it could not attract funding due to its low cost benefit ratio what weighting was given to the fact that it had flooded properties previously? What weighting was given to the fact that the properties that could be flooded included a multi occupancy care home for the elderly, a fire station and a community centre? And a question that I considered, but did not pose to the EA due to its political nature in light of the future of Eden Side still being (then) undecided was: 'How and when did the EA communicate this decision to residents, CCC, EDC and Appleby Town Council and what was their response?'

  As a simple exercise let's imagine that on 5th December 2015 it stopped raining at 0900 hrs and that the rest of the day was a beautiful and sunny one with no more rain - what would have happened?

  Obviously I'm imagining that the worst of Desmond had never happened and that it had just been a very wet night, however, The Sands was already impassable due to the flood water and for Holme Street a flood warning had been given over an hour earlier as the culvert had already been seen surcharging - basically there would have still been significant flooding along Holme Street and Chapel Street and whilst it obviously would not have become as terrible as what we saw, it would surely be reasonable to assert that it would have been 2005 all over again and possibly worse.

  So let's not get distracted by terms such as 'unprecedented' and 'extreme', as this part of town would have flooded anyway and indeed was already well on its way to doing so without any rainfall on the 5th (a rainfall day runs from 09-0900 GMT) - so what weighting will be given to twice in 10 years and what weighting will be given to the fact that without any action, it will do it again?

  And yet apart from the line in the action plan regarding the culvert all is quiet. If I lived in one of the affected properties I would be hassling Rory Stuart, the EA, CCC, EDC and Appleby Town Council along with letters to the C+W Herald, the BBC, anyone and everyone to get publicity for this issue. The aim being to highlight its impacts and ultimately to cause shame and embarrassment - to do my best to get the design fix implemented.

  However, for the residents, business owners (and the councillors and MP who could campaign on the issue and offer a greater level of support), when your property is inundated with flood water have you stopped to think why the design fix only had a 'low cost-benefit scoring'? consider this: 'Flooding cash is ‘biased towards the South'.

  The detail being: the Government applies a strict economic formula to deciding where funding should be spent. But an investigation by the Press Association reveals the methods to determine where funding goes focuses on the value of assets protected - which could tilt the system towards richer households and those in parts of the country where house prices are higher. This has prompted calls for a fairer system to prevent the poor being worst hit by flooding events, which are set to increase as the climate changes. To secure funding, a flood protection scheme has to demonstrate that it delivers more in benefits than it costs to implement and maintain the defences - by calculating the economic losses avoided through protecting property and infrastructure. The calculation looks at direct damages for homes and other buildings and their contents, clean-up costs, loss of agricultural production and commercial stock as well as indirect damages such as disruption to transport links, water, electricity or access to amenities.

  To calculate losses from homes, properties are divided into 28 standard categories based on age, size and type, according to the Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management manual, which along with an online handbook (FEH) advises appraisers on how to assess flood defence schemes. The costs of a given level of flooding for larger properties - for example a detached Victorian house - are considered to be up to several times greater than for smaller homes such as a 1970s semi.

  People who are in a higher social class, such as upper middle or middle class, in professional or managerial roles, are considered to have better quality household items than working class families, so losses from their properties are greater. Treasury guidelines also require appraisers to “cap” or limit the value of the damages expected so they do not exceed the market value of the property - which is likely to be much higher in London and the South East than other parts of the country.

  This means the losses from properties in the South East could be calculated as higher than elsewhere, making a flood defence scheme that protects those homes look more attractive. The Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management manual says: “This capping at market values creates regional distribution issues (e.g. houses within the M25 are significantly more expensive than comparable houses in the north of England) for which there is, at present, no official counter-mechanism.”

  The system does have measures to level the playing field, with a greater ratio of funding from Government for schemes that reduce flood risk for homes in deprived areas than in wealthier areas and ways in the appraisal to look at vulnerable households. And analysis should be done where “necessary” or “practical” to give more weight to poorer households, according to Treasury guidelines. But Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said it seemed the funding formula was not “fit for purpose”. “Whether you are rich or poor having your home damaged by flooding is devastating - and a postcode lottery to decide who gets protection simply isn’t fair. It’s simply wrong for richer areas to get more protection than poorer ones. “The Government should urgently review this policy, and re-purpose the formula to give equal protections to people’s homes, no matter what their value."

  Maybe you already knew or suspected this, but if you didn't, how does that make you feel?

  Finally on the subject of the Doomgate Culvert, I would reiterate that this scheme should go ahead a.s.a.p. and fully funded. If after their re-evaluation of the design fix the EA find that the cost has actually increased and not reduced as expected, it should still go ahead and without the community being asked to contribute in any way.


  One of the central planks of the new way of thinking about flood protection is the approach of 'Slow the Flow' and as I have already stated, I believe that this needs to be fully supported and funded. But where's this new way of thinking come from, because in Cumbria prior to Desmond it was something that was barely mentioned - so why the sudden rush?

  In their answer above to my question regarding what upstream management (of Appleby) has taken place over the last 10 years, the simple, yet honest answer was "None" and therein lies one of the main issues - if the EA themselves have had none (or little) engagement in this approach, certainly in Cumbria, why now? Why is it now being sold as a significant part of the answer when before it wasn't even really considered and why before the CEH have completed their study?

  (%) Even now I do not believe that the EA are fully engaged in the process and this may be due to the fact that the EA has a river engineering bias which doesn’t perhaps lie naturally with the NFRM approach and they would see it as a strategic U-turn.

  If they were they might have made contact with the WT, who, in the EA's own action plan are planting trees in Mallerstang, all part of the slow the flow approach - but how did this even get into the action plan?

  This work only appears in the action plan because the WT made sure that they attended the various flood meetings and seminars so that they could promote their work. I have no issue with this at all. The planting of trees was going to be done whether Desmond had happened or not, but it is important in its own right and hopefully will have the desired benefits - but it wouldn't have been in the action plan had the WT not attended those meetings and put their hand to say "By the way ..."

  But even after it appeared in the action plan no-one from the EA, CCC, EDC or Appleby Town Council have bothered to contact the WT to get some detail of what is been done and what they can do to help - why?

  And if further evidence was needed of the lack of engagement between the EA and this process then a reply from NE/Commoners Association for Mallerstang when I contacted them to find out about their work is oh so very telling. In my e-mail I told them of the EA's community flood action plan for Appleby and that it mentioned the work in Mallerstang, they said:

          "I confess that I did not know about the action in the Community Flood Action Plan for Appleby. I think it adds weight to the case for the planting, so your email was timely and useful."

  So basically I was telling them of something that would assist them with their planning application!!

  I believe that that goes under the heading of 'You couldn't make it up!" - is this the EA (and others) taking control, driving schemes forward and promoting their own ideas, or is it just a case of 'that sounds good, stick it in the action plan and it makes it look as though something is been done'?

  But then what else have the EA done regarding the slow the flow approach for Appleby? If they have done something they haven't communicated it. In their answer above they stated that they haven't identified any upstream locations for water storage, but that they had been engaged with farmers in the Eden valley, so you would think that in one year they may have had several meetings?

  So far, at the request of the EA, there has been one consultation meeting with a group of farmers from the lower part of the Eden catchment, this was on 27th April at Low Hesket and then one each at Brough and Colby. The objective of the meeting was to get initial feedback from farmers on how best to reduce flooding, including slowing the flow through specified Natural Flood Risk Management Techniques.

  The National Farmers Union hosted the meetings in the upper part of the catchment, the meetings held at Brough (three farmers present) and at Colby (two farmers present with another providing feedback via e-mail.)

  These meetings were held during lambing time and it is credit to those farmers who did attend for showing the importance that they place on the issue. It should also be noted that whilst in attendance, the EA did not fund these meetings – this was done by NE.

  But does such little engagement with the farmers and landowners demonstrate a sense of urgency?

  In the forward by Rory Stuart to the Cumbria Flood Plan (overview) it states: 'But it will also rely on listening to communities, and farmers – who live alongside these rivers, know the most detailed local problems, and have seen the behaviour of the rivers at first hand' - and they have managed to do this is just one meeting per area?

  The farming community wants to be involved and they consider it an important issue and indeed they are a part of the answer. There are numerous ways in which farmers and land owners can manage their land to help both the process and in turn themselves (after all they don't want to see their land under water), but the engagement with them needs to be greater.

  However, the NFU and CLA need convincing that this will be good for farm businesses and not a threat. But they surely won’t need that much convincing as this could be just what is needed for them to retain a funding stream, albeit for doing something slightly different.

  Also any proposals must not leave them in a worse position and they should not be left to carry the burden on their own.

  The farming community would say:

   "Future developments in NFRM will only be possible if farmers are convinced that there is a joint effort i.e. their concerns and knowledge are respected, initially in relation to the need for river maintenance and streamlined working within and between agencies such as the EA and NE, and on a continuing basis with respect to future developments. A highly localised approach is also essential."


  I think it is fair to say that NE, WT and ERT are all well placed to have discussions with farmers with regard to NFRM. However, the level of engagement that they get will probably depend on the level of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) farm subsidy payments they get post Brexit.

  There is a real opportunity to focus the future funding towards farmers who are prepared to make positive changes to the way they manage their land and how much NFRM they are prepared to do.

  BPS does probably have enough funding already to start making a difference but it will need more targeted funding, possibly via an Agri-environment scheme.

  The current Countryside Stewardship Scheme does now have most of the tools needed to do this work but it is under-funded and for various reasons, slow to process.

  Even if there was the required level of funding (whatever that might be) it would need the local resources to develop schemes and the farmers are only likely to become engaged as they near the end of their ELS/HLS schemes.

  This would include access to a fluvio-geomorphologist(s) and a degree of catchment modelling, without which any efforts would be guesswork.

  Recent modelling has shown that increasing “surface roughness” will help reduce the flows off the land. This has been achieved in the catchment (Mallerstang) in the name of restoration of moorland and the fells are rougher than they were 15 years ago due to the removal of sheep grazing, especially in the winter months, but this will not be enough on its own.

  Not many Commons are in the position that Mallerstang is with very few graziers on a large area of poor fell, but this is generally changing as fell farmers retire and aren’t replaced.

  Farmers do have the skills to play a valuable part in all this but there is a need for re-assurance that if they do implement certain measures that they will be making a positive contribution.

  Starting with two or three (approximately) 10km squared sub-catchment areas and making it work before NFRM infrastructure is scattered all over the Eden catchment.

  I am aware that some areas are currently looking at this, but it may not get far unless there is a full time person in post to facilitate the discussions, as it once again will come down to having the resources to do the job.

  All the relevant partners involved in the process will have to be encouraged to fund project officers, but does the will exist in those organisations (Government, EA, Defra) to support this?

  The other partners involved would most likely be very supportive of such a commitment.

  And of course any benefits will all take a long time to be felt.


  Moving onto engineered water storage - this would appear to be completely off the menu for the Eden and its tributaries. I would assert that it should remain part of the plan and it is something that the Farmers Network would echo, who stated "... engineered solutions should not be off the menu. However the current buzz is around NFRM techniques."

  I can foresee engineered water storage for the Doomgate culvert issue going ahead, but currently there is nothing planned upstream of Appleby and indeed if a site could be found then it would be costly, but the benefit wouldn't just belong to Appleby, but also further downstream.

  Slowing the flow by both natural and engineered methods can and would form a significant part of the 'basket of measures' but the whole rush to this new way gives a strong sense of having to show that something is been done - but on the cheap

  Then not only on the cheap, but also the cheapest way possible and by tapping into other budgets such as the Countryside Stewardship Agreement to help pay for it.

  There are numerous ways in which farmers and land owners can manage their land to help both the process and in turn themselves (afterall they don't want to see their land under water), but the engagement with them needs to be greater. Farmers/land owners want to help and are one part of the way forward, but any proposal must not leave them in a worse position and they should not be left to carry the burden on their own.

  ## (End Nov' 2016) since having written the above a Freedom Of Information request by Friends of the Earth (FoE) has revealed that Natural anti-flood schemes get no funding. The request revealed that there was no funding earmarked specifically for natural flood management and this is despite schemes such as that at Pickering appearing to help in the 'natural' risk of flooding. FoE pointed out that the lack of funding went against promises made by ministers that such techniques would be funded and called for at least £20m to be allocated to it.


  Should the EA be the body that continues as the principal organisation responsible for the flood defences in the UK and/or Cumbria?

  The current system for flood protection is a complex one with no single body solely responsible for the UK's flood defences and apart from the EA there are various water companies/utilities, (OFWAT), council, The Highway Agency, local councils and others who have some level of involvement.

  So this is part of the reason why MP's recently called for the EA to be stripped of its role, both for flood defences and managing rivers. The 'Future Flood Prevention' report was published by the 'Environment, Food and Rural affairs' committee on 2nd November and in calling for the EA to be stripped of its role called for the appointment of a 'National Floods Commissioner' to work alongside a newly created 'English Rivers and Coastal Authority'.

  This recommendation was supported by the NFU, with Minette Batters its deputy president stating "We fully endorse the bold suggestions by the committee to overhaul the governance and delivery of flood risk management. This is something that our members have been calling for."

  However, the proposal was not supported by the 'Country Land and Business Association (CLA) who described it as taking a 'backward step' and that it 'would risk a confused and disjointed approach at a time when people and businesses affected by flooding ... desperately need more investment'

  Both organisations did agree though that more funding should become available and that the governance to deliver flood prevention should be more 'integrated'.

  In a slightly colourful letter to our own C+W Herald recently, Stephen Gibbs, the Chairman of the Carlisle Flood Action Group, echoes the view of the MP's in calling for a new structure, 'The Cumbria Rivers Authority'. However, his proposal would see this body supported by the EA, but would be similar to that now in Somerset.

  There may also be some support amongst the farming community for such an idea with some stating that they felt that there was a lack of management since the demise of Rivers Board (Authority) and that this had exacerbated flooding problems.

  Warcop was cited as an example where houses flooded but cleaning the vegetation at the side of the river had improved the situation and that:

   ‘The Rivers Board let us take gravel out as long as it wasn’t 1000s of tonnes, didn’t go below the water line and was not in spawning time – little and often’.


  The EA and Defra have certainly become the proverbial punch-bag and a somewhat easy target to go after, but would stripping them of their responsibilities really make a difference and would a new authority be able to deliver the 'basket of measures' required?

  It is also encouraging to learn that NE, who has a better working relationship with farmers than that of the EA, will have 15 desks in the EA next year and which should further help with the collaborative working.

  The EA and Defra are probably guilty of been reactionary as opposed to pro-active and then compiling a nice looking report after the event. They certainly need to have more effective communications with the public and local councils to keep them better informed.

  The big issues are those of trust, honesty, a 'them and us' attitude, hearing nothing for long periods, disengagement and a degree of being disingenuous. To have an action plan that contains work that you know nothing about, to have in the 'timeline' of the action plan that in April 2016 "the Appleby flood defence scheme was completed", (EA's response to my question pointing out that this was not new work in response to Desmond, but which had already commenced prior to December 2015 was: "Yes, Appleby Flood Alleviation Scheme was completed in 1995. The wall replacing the barriers at the swimming pool was replaced by April 2016." - is ...?

  In a conversation with one of the partner organisations mentioned above, I said that some of what the EA was claiming was at best 'not entirely honest' and some may say 'disingenuous' - I quite liked their reply of 'No, it's nuanced'

  To think that for Appleby all that the EA have done in the last 10 years since the last significant flood and despite other low level flooding, is a short list of general maintenance - that is simply not good enough - it is as though for the last 10 years time has stood still.

  It basically looks as though the floods of 2015 were the very first and that nothing had ever happened prior to this, certainly in terms of flood protection very little has, but then the various councils must also take their fair share of the blame for not having done more.

  But funding remains the key issue and without that an English or a Cumbria Rivers Authority would take us no further forward (the staff would most likely come from the EA) and one of the issues of old was that to have a county authority always faced the issue of rivers not abiding by county boundaries.

  What was an excellent idea by the then floods minister, Rory Stewart MP, was the introduction of a 'Catchment Director' (a mini floods commissioner?) within the EA who would have responsibility for a particular river. So now in Cumbria we now have directors for the Derwent, Eden and jointly for the Kent and Leven - it's just that on the face of it, it hasn't been particularly well executed.

  Have you heard of Jim Ratcliffe the catchment director for the Eden? However, to be fair, he covers a large area and this includes Carlisle and places such as Glenridding.

  Have you seen a press briefing/release (App3 C2) from him or heard that he has attended an Appleby Town Council meeting to bring them up to date with his work and that of the EA or maybe saw him at the flood forum meeting in July?

  Despite his role being a full-time one and the EA when answering all my questions in connection to Appleby and the Eden have never suggested that I speak with him, I can only assume that they have not made him aware of my questions (and their answers) as I have never had any communication from him. However, from e-mails that I have seen, he has proved useful to Rory Stewart who uses him in a 'cc' capacity when he replies to constituents questions about various flood issues and that Mr. Ratcliffe will now keep them updated.

  Now Mr. Ratcliffe may indeed be competent and hard working and doing a good job and indeed it is from him (further e-mails that I have seen) that we learnt about the dates and timings for the proposed works for Appleby (see below), but which would seem to be another case of poor communication, this time within the EA, as the answers they gave me did not include such timings as provided by Mr. Ratcliffe.

  But to whom do these three catchment directors report and who is in overall charge or are they all working independently of each other and quite obviously with their own agenda's? Surely it would have been more appropriate to have had one person in overall charge within the EA for the three rivers with these three directors reporting back?

  Due to the fact that those three rivers both rise in and pass through Cumbria on their way to the sea, then Mr. Gibbs' idea of a Cumbria River Authority (such a body did previously exist) may actually work. However, such a body would also need to have river management and slowing the flow in its remit as well as flood protection. It would have to have seniority and precedence over the EA, who, in Cumbria, would play a supporting role under direction of the new body. But once again funding and having the right people in place, wherever they may come from, would be crucial.

  This would be 'pioneering' and accepting of the fact that Cumbria is in many ways a county on its own and like no other and whilst I would say that this would be a case of local accountability, unfortunately many will just say that it couldn't be any worse than it is now.


  'Political Will' - does this really exist beyond the recovery stage? To see that the flood defences get built? That business', farmers and residents get the support that they need and in a timely manner?

  This obviously extends beyond the government of the day, beyond visits by prime ministers and leaders of the opposition in the immediate aftermath of a flood, but to both county, district and local councils.

  Todmorden may not be in Cumbria, but to use it as an example, almost five years ago following devastating flooding it was visited by the then Prime Minister David Cameron who told them "The government stands by to help in any way we can" What happened in the next four years before it, like Cumbria flooded again?

  Only following Desmond has the political pressure grown for something to be done. Didn't Cumbria receive visits after the floods of 2005 and 2009? And yet between 2005 and Desmond, in 10 years, all that Appleby has had is ... a short list of general maintenance works.

  In what is a possible sign of the governments indifference and dragging of heels, is the fact that it didn't submit its application to the EU's Solidarity Fund until 22nd September - both Germany and Madeira, which had floods in 2016 (after Desmond) had already received funds from applications it had made, quite clearly submitted in a timely fashion.

  However, Defra will point out that "... we're spending a record £2.5bn on flood defences to better protect 300,000 more homes by 2021 and many of these projects are already using natural flood management measures" - but then Defra have also accepted that they "have no idea about costs borne at a local level".

  What we now have to hope and put faith in is that Desmond has created a new mind-set and that something will finally get done. However, the publication of the National Flood Resilience Review in early September wasn't particularly well received, with the amount of additional funding made available by the government attracting the most criticism.

  Most of the Review is taken up explaining how the Government is working with the private sector to ensure that they have plans in place to ensure the resilience of key infrastructure. Why the Government should need to invest so much time and effort encouraging the private sector to safeguard its own business-critical assets is not entirely clear. The sums of money the sector has already identified to improve the flood resilience of its assets over the next five years (£900 million by Network Rail, £78 million by Highways England, £250 million by the electricity industry, etc) are not insignificant, so would Government effort be better directed looking at the plans for its own flood risk management budget and identifying where combining resources might provide better outcomes for people and the environment?

  And in my final summing up towards the end, I mention that just how much NFRM is actually achieved will be due more to political will than lack of partner organisations or the farmers willingness to do it

  Additionally one of the main criticisms aimed at the review was that it lacked specific detail in terms of what will be done and by when. Was it being deliberately vague so that it will be difficult to tell in the years to come whether the review has had a positive impact or not?

  What will the government do about affordable insurance? Yes there is FloodRe, but despite this there are still many people who simply can not afford to insure their properties due to the large premiums. The new floods minister, Therese Coffey and the new Chancellor, Philip Hammond have promised to look at this issue again, but the clock is still ticking.

  Therese Coffey on her visit to Cumbria recently, which was not well received, stated that "There's no wand I can wave" to stop the rain and flooding from happening again - but for Appleby a good waft of that wand would help.

  Of course I refer to the Doomgate Culvert - Minister, in your role as the floods minister can you please instruct Defra and the EA to fully implement the design fix to this issue and make available 100% of the funds required.

  Mr Stewart, in your role as the constituency MP, can you make the relevant representations to the minister and EA/Defra to get this implemented and to a combination of CCC, EDC, Appleby Town Council and such as Appleby Chamber of Trade, can you make the same representations to your MP, the minister and EA/Defra?

  And of course it may only be coincidence, but one week in the C+W Herald we read that 'Floods minister yet to set Cumbria date after Therese Coffey was appointed to the role, only for the following week to read that she had now visited. In many respects we had been well served by the fact that not only was the floods minister a Cumbrian MP, but the constituency MP that includes Appleby, Rory Stewart. Quite clearly he drove forward the initial phase of flood recovery and is undoubtedly effective at getting the right people together, but then he also put his name to the Cumbria Flood Plan which we shall describe as 'nuanced'.

  When flooding in the UK as a whole costs the country literally vast sums of money and is a recurring issue, it quite possibly says something that it is classed as a promotion when you become the minister of state at the Department for International Development from having been the floods minister. Albeit as a potential future (?) foreign secretary he is probably more suited to this post than most.

  But when Therese Coffey visited Cumbria and failed to wave her magic wand, she confirmed that she could not chair the Cumbria Floods Partnership (a role previously performed by Rory Stewart) and she was described as having brushed off questions about why she had not visited places like Glenridding, Appleby or Carlisle where hundreds of homes and businesses were swamped and she added that she hoped there would be no need to come back to Cumbria in December.

  So, that sounds like she won't even be paying an anniversary visit to see how things are progressing, but I wager that the media will (and they did)!!

  The two day visit had been organised by the EA and who were accused of deliberately keeping the minister away from villagers when she visited Braithwaite and one villager was 'hustled away' when he tried to confront her - some may say the 'them and us' approach of the EA, especially when the villagers didn't want to speak to the minister to praise the work of the EA!

  And indeed the response (or lack of – see App’ 3) from Defra and Dr. Coffey to this report is quite simply shameful.

  Separate to the above and in what for Cumbria may be a positive development, is that Sue Hayman, the MP for Workington, has been appointed the shadow floods minister by the Labour party. Positive because it may prevent Cumbria's profile and needs falling by the wayside after losing Rory Stewart as the floods minister, someone she says she had a good working relationship with.

  And Sue Hayman scored one small political victory over Therese Coffey recently when in parliament she asked Coffey about the £220,000 that Allerdale council was still owed under the Bellwin scheme. Coffey agreed that she "raised an important point" and within 24 hours, the Department for Communities and Local Government were in touch with Allerdale council to let them know that they would receive payment as a contribution to costs of the floods that day  -  (see U4 - App' 3)

  And what of our local councils and councillors?

  Here I have some sympathy because the extent of Desmond was not confined to just a few areas and was on such a large scale and under remarkably difficult circumstances they did their best. However, on the scale faced, they do have to look to central government not just for financial assistance, but logistical help as well - and I do not question the immediate response and recovery stages, they were about as good as could be expected and this would include central government as well.

  A look at the minutes of the Appleby Town Council for 2016 shows that as the year progressed, the floods became less of an issue, partly replaced by the attempts to keep Eden Side open. There is a mention in July about the number of residents still out of their properties along Chapel Street, but after the flood forum meeting was held in July, there is no mention of it at all and nothing in terms of a response.

  But one conversation that I had (beginning of September) with a local councillor in the town was somewhat illuminating and whilst they are quite clearly well intentioned, hard working and passionate about the town, it demonstrated just some of the local failings.

  Initially I did not know the person's name and that they were a councillor, although that slowly became apparent. Initially I was speaking to them about other issues, but after a while the conversation turned to the councils response to the floods - it is worth repeating the conversation:

  "What is the general perception in the town of what the council are doing following the floods?"    -  "Everything that can be done is being done."

  "What about what's been done in Mallerstang?"    -  "That would be Kirkby Stephen town council."

  "But that's where the Eden rises, so what happens up there effects what happens down here."    -  "That would be Kirkby Stephen town council."

  Realising that I was getting nowhere and after several more "Everything that can be done is being done" I already knew that I was talking to a councillor and so now I thought it best to move on to something that I knew would be of interest:

  "So what about the Doomgate Culvert, ... you know the EA came up with a potential design fix."    -  "No."

  "But it would cost £3m and that was too expensive."    -  "No."

  This was clearly stoking the interest as the fate of Eden Side was still to be decided and at this point I informed the councillor that I had made a Freedom of Information request to the EA with various questions and was awaiting a reply - I agreed to forward those questions to the councillor.

  We moved on and I asked:   "You know about the £6.5m that has been allocated jointly to Appleby, Wigton and others, including Rickerby Park?"    -  "Rickerby Park is in Carlisle."   -   "Exactly"

  I was no longer hearing "Everything that can be done is being done" and afterwards I sent the list of questions that I had asked the EA to them. I had a nice reply saying thankyou - but I've heard no more since.

  Yet I still have a great deal of sympathy for the various local councils and councillors, what could they have done and what can they do? Do we expect too much of them?

  I just believe that for Appleby they don't know themselves. That they are reliant on the EA and government, but unlike the local parish council in Glenridding, who have made a lot of noise, Appleby town council and its CCC and EDC councillors appear to have been fairly quiet on the issue.

  Appleby needs to know what it wants, to suggest its own measures (beyond gravel extraction) and that may even have to entail commissioning their own flood survey for the town to have something to contrast and compare with the EA's recommendations when they finally come to fruition - and then campaign like never before.


  Global Warming and Climate Change at the start of my report I asked:

 "With the warnings regarding the likelihood of more regular and severe flooding events due to climate change, does Appleby now finally

   have to accept the need for additional defences and what is 'The Town' and others doing to ensure its future flood defence capability?"

  Now views on GW/CG tend to be entrenched regardless of which side of the fence that you may sit and I for one, a Sceptic of the 'it's too early to say' camp, have finally, almost, succumbed to the view that there is simply too much evidence to suggest otherwise - but that does not mean I support wind farms, etc. Nuclear, yes.

  And of course Desmond can't be solely attributed to CG, but what Professor Dame Julia Slingo, Met Office Chief Scientist, had to say following Desmond is nonetheless important:

  “It’s too early to say definitively whether climate change has made a contribution to the exceptional rainfall. We anticipated a wet, stormy start to winter in our three-month outlooks, associated with the strong El Niño and other factors. However, just as with the stormy winter of two years ago, all the evidence from fundamental physics, and our understanding of our weather systems, suggests there may be a link between climate change and record-breaking winter rainfall. Last month, we published a paper showing that for the same weather pattern, an extended period of extreme UK winter rainfall is now seven times more likely than in a world without human emissions of greenhouse gases.”

  And winter rainfall, when the trees are not in leaf and use less water and the ground may already be saturated, is really the issue for Appleby, the time of year when history shows that this is when the floods will occur.

  The EA in replying to a question on this subject, asking if they take a ‘corporate view’ of the impacts of climate change and in particular regarding the frequency and magnitude of winter flooding in the UK, stated:

 "Yes. We provide guidance to planners to take account of future changes to flood risk from climate change. This is because research indicates that climate change will lead to increased flood risk in future." - they went on to add:

 "There has been no trend in UK annual average rainfall, but winter rainfall in Scotland and parts of northern England has increased over the last 50 years. Over the same period, more winter rainfall has been falling in heavy events across the UK. Annual run-off (total river flow) has increased since the 1960s in Scotland, Wales and parts of northern and western England. Winter flows have increased in upland western catchments. High winter flows have also increased over the last 30 years and there has been an increase in the frequency and magnitude of flooding over this period, especially in the west and north. We know a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and we expect more rainfall to fall in heavy events in both winter and summer. Recent heavy rainfall is consistent with this, but it’s not possible to be certain that any individual event is directly driven by climate change. There have been flood-rich and flood-poor periods over the last century, and events often appear to cluster."

  And this is in keeping with the views of the Met'O, who have been looking at this issue and in the National Flood Resilience Review, conclude:

  that extreme flood events may occur with a 20-30% greater frequency than existing models predicted (&&) but that the communities at risk now will continue to be those at risk in the future. This modelling has recently been backed up by studies into Cumbrian lake sediments, which show that two in three of the biggest storms in the last 600 years occurred in the last two decades."

  So, even going by their own views, the pressure is on the EA. The problem for them is obvious - all relevant bodies, organisations, the scientific world and government predict a future that, in terms of flooding in winter, is going to be worse than it is now - so how do you square saying that it is going to get worse than it already is with then doing so little?

  Or is it a case of EA/Defra do want to do more but are simply just hostage to a lack of adequate funding?

  The money being spent now and over the next few years maybe at its highest ever level nationally, but is it enough?

  But when the EA comes back to Appleby with its plans, what will the town do? Does it say they don't like the look of them and just ask for the gravel to be taken out of the river, or does it put the future viability of the town first and dare I say it, potentially say that they don't go far enough?


 And finally,

  The 25 year plan that takes a prominent place in all the FIR's completed following Desmond states that many partnership's have been brought together to plan and take action to reduce flood risk and that the plan will consider options to reduce flood risk across the whole length of a river catchment including upstream land management, strengthening flood defences, etc - my issue with this is, it's ten years too late.

  By my own reckoning, following the floods of 2005, we have now completed 11 years of this plan, so only 14 left to go! But of course such a plan wasn't proposed then, but as the EA's answers above demonstrate, in those ten years they have done practically nothing for Appleby anyway.

  Yet to be charitable, the 'Eden Catchment Flood Management Plan' (CFMP) was only published in December 2009 (a whole six years before Desmond!!!) and under the title 'Managing Flood Risk' it is described as 'giving an overview of the flood risk in the Eden catchment and sets out our preferred plan for sustainable flood risk management over the next 50 to 100 years.

  So maybe we are only (now) seven years into a 25 year plan, but still there is no sign of that CFMP having been progressed anyway - so, whichever way you do the maths, nothing = nothing.

  And this is just one of the reasons why there is such distrust in the EA's ability to plan and deliver and we seem to be lurching from one good idea to the next idea - so long as it is on the cheap.

  'Slowing the flow' must be supported, encouraged, fully researched and financed and it will be a part of the answer, one of those items in the basket of measures', but without engineered water storage, not the significant part that the EA would have us believe.

  And as one contributor to this report said:    More upland tree cover, more capacity in stream, slower flows will all help mitigate average floods – though another Desmond will not be stopped. So:

     • Model

     • Act / enact

     • Educate

     • Make resilient where possible and

     • Accept the worst will happen again, deal with it.


  With the slow the flow approach, go back to the already saturated ground of December 2015 and instead of the wet ground, think of a sponge - even a sponge can only hold so much water.

  The work of NE and WT and subsequently the landowners and farmers needs greater support and encouragement and not just financial compensation, but financial incentive and engineered water storage must be on the agenda.

  We know that land management is a key factor yet it is depressing to realise the paucity of data around water and land and yet the political response of the agencies to the flooding regarding land management, remains underwhelming.

  Suffice to say that how much of this NFRM is actually achieved will be more due to political will than lack of partner organisations or the farmers willingness to do it - it can be done given enough time and resources.

  The scheme options for use in the floodplain are 20 year options so they come with a significant government commitment that may not be forthcoming and may just be a case of words and no meaningful engagement.

  These are big matters demanding good governance – let us not unduly blame the messenger (all of whom are good people) but the message needs significantly re-booting.

  Undoubtedly there are many views, some quite stringent and entrenched, about water, flooding, rivers, and catchments and some quite vocal people who oppose a lot of the sensible catchment ideas and rather hogg the limelight.

  And there are countermanding demands from those that manage the land about “potential loss” of farming - it will take a lot to counter this and perhaps we will not see a robust stance taken.

  It is essential we have good robust catchment plans with the power to enforce them.


 (&&) at the beginning of this report I asserted that 'the relevant authorities have under-estimated the frequency of and in particular the magnitude of flooding in the town and that the current level of flood protection afforded to the town, to cope with a 1 in 100 year flood is inadequate', something which I believe the historical record demonstrates.

  With the Met' Office questioning the accuracy of existing predictions for the future and not just by a few percentage points, but by a significant distance, then surely now is not the time to be gambling on the future of the town.

  And that view of the Met' Office is for extreme events and not just the low level repeat flooding type of event - it may sound extreme, but the future viability of the town could literally be at stake.

  A gamble worth taking?


  Appleby may be small in size and in numbers, but its importance both historically and present day can not be called into question. It may not be 'as important' as Carlisle strategically or on a 'cost benefit ratio' spreadsheet, but the lack of research, planned works, projects, funding and overall intransigence from all parties, especially since the floods of 2005, is simply breathtaking.

  There must now be a concerted effort from all, fully transparent and honest to secure the future flood defences of the town and it must go further and faster than is the current position - because as we all know, the wait for the next flood will not be a long one.

  And so to that reply from Jim Ratcliffe regarding what Appleby can expect for the future and make up your own mind as to what will be done, the urgency, the sense of scale and how seemingly open ended it is as to what is being done:

    "Work will fall into two distinct phases; detailed design & planning (estimated as being complete between December 2018 and October 2019), and then the construction phase (estimated as being complete between October 2019 and April 2021). These are initial timings based on experience of designing and constructing similar type schemes in the past, however there will be a general presumption to complete works as quickly as possible. At present the Environment Agency is looking at how the existing scheme performed, however the design and planning stage also includes an appraisal of the options, and consultation between professional partners and the public on those options. More information will be available as progress is made."


Scenes of the flooding in the town - 1964 (L) and 1968 (R)




  The following people/organisations were given the opportunity to comment upon any aspect of this report prior to its wider publication:

  Appleby Chamber of Trade
  Appleby Town Council  *
  Centre for Ecology and Hydrology  *  (do not comment upon non CEH aspects of the report)
  # Therese Coffey MP - (Floods Minister)
  Andrew Connell - (EDC councillor)  *
  Cumberland and Westmorland Herald (Editor)  *
  # Defra  *
  Eden District Council  *
  Environment Agency   =
  The Farmers Network  ~
  Karen Greenwood - (EDC councillor)
  Sue Hayman MP - (shadow floods minister)
  Natural England ~
  NFU  ~
  Martin Stephenson - (CCC councillor)  +
  Rory Stewart MP  *
  Prof. Graham Tobin
  Woodland Trust  *

  Those marked * have responded, see Appendix 3 
  Those marked ~ provided information but have not yet responded.
  Those marked + have acknowledged the report, but have not responded.
  Those not marked have neither acknowledged or responded.

  For the EA, Defra and Dr. Therese Coffey - see App'3


APPENDIX 2 - photographic examples of 'Slowing the Flow'

Tree Planting in Riparian Zone                                                                  Woody Debris dam



River Re-meandering                                                                         Embankment Removal - Floodplain Reconnection



Online Floodplain Storage Areas                                                                     Offline Flood Storage Areas



Green Engineering - Flow path interception                                                             Sediment Trap



Blanket Bog Restoration                                                             Wetland Restoration and Creation



Ditch Removal - Blocking



 An Update since this report was first circulated


    •	Some 160,000 trees are now planted on Ravenstonedale Common in the scheme that NE + WT were so much a part of and had been planning over the last 3 years.

• Dr Nick Chappell has now shown that water flows are attenuated by even young (2 year old) plantations at Tebay. Detailed ‘dynamic-Top Model work is showing very believable benefits at whole basin-scales (given observations assumptions used) of tree planting in the Upper Eden, Upper Kent and Cocker downstream area. The Report will be available in due course - This is key to our knowledge and understanding – is this a case of having to act now and then review our actions?

• The WT are applying for a Phd student via Dr Nick supported by our funding to look at water flows in the Cumbrian landscape relating to woodland soils and tree planting. We should hear about this in the early New Year and which will be called:

'Innovative experimental evidence of the flood-mitigation benefits of native woodland planting in key catchments for people living and working downstream.'


  Both the WT and NE are still moving forward and indeed their work is progressing and they hope that their new scheme on the common at Mallerstang gets the go ahead and they will be plugging the Phd student in there directly if it does.



  U1 – Tree Planting - re the scrub creation/tree planting in Mallerstang.

  I have been contacted by ‘Kirkby Stephen and District Walkers are Welcome’ who stated:

  "On to Mallerstang and the management of the River Eden upstream. I have been involved recently as Chairman of Kirkby Stephen & District Walkers are Welcome in opposing a Natural England scheme to fence and produce scrub on common land in Western Mallerstang.

  Because they have to have planning application for fencing common land, there is an opportunity to oppose. Our main focus has been that the creation of scrub will do little for flood prevention as suggested and before going ahead with further piecemeal EU funded box ticking schemes, the EA should look at upstream Eden management as a whole.

  Even the creation of mixed woodland would be better than scrub but this would not be EU funded or add to Natural England’s focus on species protection artificial measures because they have fallen behind in this area and are being fined by the EU."


  U2 – River Channel Depth and Gravel Extraction.

  Further research has now been completed regarding the depth of the River Eden. Initially the EA were stating that the river was now deeper than the time when it was last surveyed in 2014 – my point to them was that it would surely be better to compare the depth now to that in times gone by.

  I suggested that when the surveys were completed in the 1970’s for the scheme that was proposed to lower the river bed, that the technical data from those surveys must exist and that this would make for a more trustworthy comparison.

  That data (from 1972) has now been located and the graph below is quite telling.

  For anyone who is pre-occupied with the build up of gravel, I would suggest that this is mis-guided and the real issue should be that of channel depth.

  The deeper the channel, the greater the capacity and its ability to move the water through the town that much quicker.

  However, that is notwithstanding the need to have a tightly controlled monitoring system in place (which the EA do have) for the build up a gravel and its subsequent removal.

  The case for ‘little and often’ is still relevant, but such as the current build up of gravel on the bend around the swimming pool which would normally be a 5-8yr process, the current shoal as only taken 4yrs and is now close to that ‘trigger point’ for removal.

  However, below the graph of the river channel depths are Google earth images of the shoal – these are from May 2009 and clearly show that the gravel was worse then than it is now.

  I have pointed out to Appleby Town Council that if this is an issue that they feel strongly about, they could seek to obtain a licence from the EA to perform this task themselves.

  The EA would even assist them with their application so that it would have a greater chance of being successful.

  However, it is an expensive operation, unless of course a builder or farmer would do it for free on the understanding that he kept the gravel for himself.



Comparison Of River Channel Depths and Google Earth Images from May 2009





  At the end of January 2017 the NFU have published a ‘Flood Manifesto’, it can be read here:   'NFU Flood Manifesto'


  U4 – Political Will

  In a shadow cabinet re-shuffle on 9.2.17. Sue Hayman was promoted and is no longer the shadow flood minister


  U5 – Electricity Supply/Resilience

  In Response to a question from myself concerning what work has been done post Desmond to improve the future resilience of the towns supply, Electricity North West have stated:

  “I am happy to advise that we have carried out a lot of work on the primary substation in your area to reduce the incidents in the future. We have spent £4.6million on the primary substation, this is completing tasks such as:

  • Tree cutting

  • Additional 1m of waterproofing

  • Flood doors

  • Trench covers

  • Duct sealing to both switch rooms

    In the 132KV control room we have added more waterproofing and a sump pump and flood doors. We have also constructed a wall surrounding the substation to protect our equipment.

  We are hoping this will minimise the issues in the future.”


  But when asked “For clarification, your list, is this solely for Appleby (within the CA16 post code) or for a wider area?“ The reply was:

  “This was to a wider area rather than one specific substation within CA16, however we have carried out similar works to the substations affected by Storm Desmond, to reduce the impact on the power supply during incident of this nature again. We are hoping this will make the equipment more resilient in the future.“

  I subsequently asked them the following question:

  “As you will know, in Appleby there are two sub-stations, one on The Sands, the other in Broadclose car park – both of these are very much on the flood plain, with the former the most likely to flood.

  What would be good to know is, as per my original question, what steps have been taken to improve the resilience and flood defence capability of these stations and ultimately the power supply in the town?

  If to date no work as been carried out, could you outline what work will take place and when.

  I'm sure that you will agree with me that this is an important issue and one that affects the whole town and not just those that flooded.

  It is becoming an issue that is now moving up the agenda in the town and it would be really appreciated if you could outline work done or to be done that will improve the situation in Appleby, if not hopefully eradicate it and help give a sense of reassurance in what has been for many, a very traumatic time. The next flood forum in the town held by CCC and The EA is on 2nd March and it would be great if this additional sense of reassurance could be outlined at this (public) meeting.”


  However, the news for Appleby is good.

  Whilst no actual work on any of the sub stations as been carried out to date, ENWL have been going through a process of surveying their assets and what is required ... and funding has been approved for work at Appleby.

  The budget and funds will be released in 2017/18 and a Peter Hall and is staff will be managing the works once the paperwork has been released.

  That work to be done is:

  • The Sands   -   New 315kVA Unit s/stn on 1 metre raised plinth

  • St. Lawrence Church   -   Raise TX and LV cabinet on 600mm plinth     -     Raise RTU 600mm up wall     -     Leave HV switchgear until end of life then replace on raised plinth

  • Chapel Street   -   Install flood doors and sump pump     -    Seal walls and ducts




  From Andrew Connell:

  I have read your report; thank you for all the painstaking research that has gone into it. I think it very likely that Appleby Town Council and Eden District Council will want to discuss it.

  Some immediate thoughts. They are not a comprehensive response to many interesting things you say, e.g. about upstream water capture.

  1.) You are right that cost-effect calculations will favour more populous downstream areas at the expense of relatively isolated upstream settlements, Carlisle vis-à-vis Appleby for example.

  2.) The implication is therefore that Appleby should shout louder.

  3.) But shout what? There must be broad consensus as to what ‘the town’ wants from the EA and other bodies. You are quite right to keep coming back to work on the Doomgate culvert and its flow into the Eden because on that there would be general agreement.

  4.) I wasn’t a councillor in 1995, and don’t recall what flood prevention measures ‘the town’ rejected. If the proposal was for walls at the Sands on either side of the river bank downstream of the bridge, I don’t think there would be any more enthusiasm now than there was 20+ years ago.

  5.) I honestly don’t think Appleby Bowling Club has as much influence on local opinion as you suggest, though they don’t want their buildings to be flooded again any more than anyone else with property in the flood plain.

  6.) I’m surprised at the statement that sandbags were not used during Storm Desmond. People did use them and – whatever their limitations - wanted more. There is an EDC report on this that you can access.

    There is much more in your report that deserves consideration. I’m impressed both by the historical data, you have located and your selfless persistence in putting questions.


  From Martin Stephenson:

  Many thanks for sending me your very comprehensive and informative report on flooding in Appleby. I am happy to attend a meeting with the Environment Agency or other official bodies if there is a relevant agreed agenda for the meeting.

  Once again thanks for the report and for all your work in putting it together, it must have been quite a task. As a resident of Appleby for most of my life I have seen a lot of the recent floods come and go but the severity of flooding as a result of storm Desmond was something I have not seen before in the last 50 plus years.


  From The Environment Agency:

  They have not formally responded, but I have had a meeting with them which was both positive and constructive and they have received this report well and see it as an opportunity to become more engaged with the Appleby community.

  A ‘partnership’ meeting involving the EA, CCC, EDC, Appleby Town Council and Appleby FLAG will now follow shortly as a result.


  From The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology:

  They have not commented directly upon the report due to time constraints, but state that on the section in which they are directly quoted that they are ‘happy that they fairly reflect our views’ and requested one amendment and one assertion that are now in place.


  From Appleby Town Council:

  The Council’s Planning and General Purpose Committee which met on 9th January are considering your report and I will provide an update at next week’s Council meeting regarding the details you have sent below. I will send you a copy of the minutes when I get chance to write them?! But have been asked to thank you for your report, the details and huge amount of research will be a useful reference for the Council and community going forward. I .... look forward to discussions with the EA and the presentation of the final Flood Investigation Report in the near future.

  Once I have had chance to fully digest the report I would be grateful if you would be able to meet with myself and Councillors so that we can explore specific points and ensure clarity of understanding. I will be in touch shortly.

  The minutes of that ‘Planning and General Purpose Committee’ meeting are:

  'The Clerk advised that there was a printed copy of Darren Rogers’s Report in their meeting packs and that it makes interesting and useful reading. Cllr H Potts said that he had spoken to Darren who was keen to assist the Council and Cllr Connell stated that he had read the report and that it was a well research document that would prove extremely useful as a future resource. The Clerk said that she intended to organise a meeting with Darren to ensure that the details of the report are understood fully. The Committee did not feel it was appropriate to comment further at this time pending the publication of the Environment Agency and County Council’s Final Flood Investigation Report. It was RECOMMENDED that the Clerk thank Darren on behalf of the Council for all the work that he has been put into his report and arrange a meeting to clarify any details.'


  From Eden District Council:

  Thank you for the report.


  From Rory Stewart MP:

  Many thanks for the report - I will be happy to come back to you with any comments once I have had a chance to read it.


  Defra/Floods Minister:

  An official at Defra writes to tell me:

  “Your report has been passed to the relevant policy officials in both Defra and the Environment Agency (EA). Dr Coffey will not be making any comments on it, as the report is with officials.”

  Which was later followed with:"This report has been passed to the Environment Agency and they will reply at their discretion.”

  And after I contacted the EA (not Penrith), it was later followed by:

 "Further to our letter of 29 January about your Appleby in Westmorland flood report, I understand that a meeting has been arranged between you, the Environment Agency (EA) and Appleby Town Council to outline the EA’s proposals for future steps to reduce flood risk in the town.

  The EA recommends that you contact the Appleby town clerk about this meeting. You can reach her using the following email address ..."




   C1 – page 35 re use of sandbags  -  Andrew Connell EDC councillor for Appleby tells me:
        “I’m surprised at the statement that sandbags were not used during Storm Desmond.  People did use them and – whatever their limitations - wanted more.”

   C2 – page 60 re Jim Ratcliffe  -  My own Correction:
        Mr. Ratcliffe now produces a monthly update that appears on the EDC website and from the December edition we learn that:

          “We have been continuing to work with partners in adopting a catchment approach, and myself and the other two Catchment Directors have been supporting these partnerships
           and have helped to inform the development of the Cumbria strategic Flood Partnership. This group includes EDCl, environmental organisations, farming groups, rivers trusts
           and water companies. It will aim to make sure that the investment in environment, farming and water supply continues to contribute to flood risk management.”

  Curiously though they still haven’t made contact with the WT despite an earlier edition stating that trees had been planted in Mallerstang!

  The monthly updates can be read at:  Update November 2016  and  Update December 2016

  Having now read several of these updates, they are very light on the River Eden itself and Appleby is not mentioned in terms of NFRM and work to be done on defences, etc. Carlisle, Glenridding and the scheme at Stockdalewith are mentioned.


   Other Useful sources:

  'The National Flood Forum'

  'Flood Re Explained'

  Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) - Tel: 0808 281 9490 - provides financial assistance to those from the farming sector experiencing hardship

  'For those with children who were affected by the flooding'


  13th March 2020 - update

  Over four years have passed since ‘Desmond’ and the town still awaits the EA’s final decision on what flood prevention measures that they will implement.

  There have been x2 floods since Desmond, the flood of ‘Storm Ciara’ February 2020 being categorised by myself as at level 2 and which was one that residents very much felt was ...’We got away with that one.’

  However, as such, the decision has been made by the EA as to what flood defence work they will implement and those work/improvements are solely around the issue of the Doomgate Culvert .... This is purely due to cost.

  Three schemes had been identified and priced, they were:

  1.) Doomgate Culvert and associated pumping station ... £1.5M

  2.) The Sands ... £3.6M

  3.) Riverside (Town)... £2.7M

  To a total cost of £7.8M

  However, the EA have confirmed that there is only £1.5M available to Appleby for its flood defences .... This begs the question ... what happened to the £2.5M promised?

  Whilst my personal opinion is that the Doomgate Culvert should take precedence, the figures quoted quite clearly demonstrate that there is really only the one option available to the EA to complete.

  A FoI request was made to the EA and the questions with the EA’s reply is reproduced below.


  Following the recent public consultation at Appleby I have a few questions and would be obliged if the EA could help with them – it revolves around the issue of funding and starts with the fact that originally the EA stated that there would be £2.5M of funding for Appleby.

  • How was that figure of £2.5m arrived at and who was responsible for its publication/dissemination?

  This was felt to be an affordable sum of money at the time the bid for funding from the government was made immediately post Storm Desmond. This had to be done in the absence of any work to assess what the actual cost (or benefits) of a scheme for Appleby might be but was a sum that might be ‘affordable’ in the context of the government’s ‘Green Book’ on funding.

  • At what point did the EA know that government funding allocated to Appleby would only be £100k and who was the floods minister at the time?

  The Government would still be funding 100% of the cost of an affordable scheme but it would just be the relative proportion of Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA) and the post Desmond additional funding announced by the Chancellor March ’16. The £100k was the shortfall that was anticipated in eligible FDGiA and would come from the additional funding announced in the March ’16 budget. This number varied as we went through the appraisal process, assessed the scheme costs and benefits and calculated how much FDGiA we may or may not be eligible for. In Appleby the initial benefits assessments suggested that we would be eligible for sufficient FDGiA that meant we only needed £100k of funding to meet the Government Green Book requirements. Subsequent analysis indicated that the benefits assessment overestimated how much FDGiA we’d be eligible for as we quickly hit a ‘capping’ point based on house values. At this point we had to reflect this in the appraisal and it changed what an affordable scheme looks like, particularly when informed by the updated scheme costs.

  • Are you aware at what point the MP for Penrith and the Borders knew that £100k was the allocation – was he informed of this by the EA, if so, when?

  We can’t answer that with any confidence. Conversations weren’t necessarily taking place at each iteration of the project.

  • At what point did the EA disseminate the information out to CCC, EDC and Appleby Town Council that government funding was £100K?

  As outlined above funding eligibility is an iterative process based on changes in the scope of the scheme, costs and benefits

  • At what point did the EA realise that the total funding pot would be £1.5M?

  It wasn’t so much a realisation as an appreciation, as the costs and benefits assessment that inform the business case developed, of the shortfall between how much FDGiA the Doomgate option was eligible for and the actual cost of that work. So the total cost of the Doomgate option is in the region of £2.6 million, of which nearly all will now be from the additional post storm Desmond funding and any remainder from eligible FDGiA.

  • At what point did the EA disseminate the information out to CCC, EDC and Appleby Town Council that the total funding pot for the town was £1.5m?

  The total cost of what we’re looking to do in Appleby (Doomgate Pumping Station) is £2.6 million. This was outlined to the Town Council in January 2020. The current cost is still an estimate, subject to detailed design and risks remain around understanding services alignments and other construction risks.

  • The estimations of cost of works to a.) The Sands (£3.6M) and b.) Riverside (£2.7M) is to protect against what level of flood (for example 1:100, 1:200)?

  The Standard of Protection associated with the costs you have referred to above for the Sands and Town Centre – 1:200 town centre 1:25 The Sands (both reducing overtime with climate change). There are economic, technical and social constraints. For example in addition to affordability issues on The Sands it may not be possible to fit all the water that would be retained within the channel through the bridge without impacting on its integrity. The Town Centre scheme is not economically viable because the onset of flooding is delayed by the existing scheme, reducing the benefits that accrue. The option that meets the tests / constraints is the Doomgate Pumping Station which is the one we are currently pursuing.


  Floods following Storm Ciara 8-9th February 2020



   © Darren Rogers 2016

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