A NEW bid to prevent flood defence pumps being shut down in the Lyth Valley is being pursued by local farmers and landowners.

The Environment Agency has warned at the end of 2015 it will switch off four pumps that keep the valley drained, leaving thousands of acres of farmland either permanently under water or at risk of regular flooding.

But hopes of a long-term solution have been raised at a meeting of Lyth Valley farmers, landowners and other interested parties.

Around 60 people attended the gathering at J36 Rural Centre at Crooklands on Friday to hear how a new drainage board financed by a local levy could keep the pumps running.

A previous drainage board proposal covering the Valley and its wider catchment area was rejected by locals with many residents resenting having to pay even though they had no flood risk.

However, the new plan is a more focused scheme involving a levy on farmers, landowners, households and businesses only.

Local farmer and county councillor Jim Bland said he was pleased with the turnout to the J36 meeting.

“Around 70 per cent of those invited were able to attend and although there were concerns voiced everyone was very positive about an internal board. Since the meeting, I’ve spoken to those who weren’t there and I’m confident the idea has 100 per cent support within the valley.”

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron described the gathering as ‘a good meeting with some tough questions asked’.

“As far as I could see, everyone agreed there was no alternative to an internal drainage board,” said Mr Farron. “What’s clear is we have to find a way to prevent the valley from being flooded. We can’t throw away good farmland which pro-vides essential feed needed for livestock elsewhere in the Lakes. The only sensible option is an internal board.”

The next stage of the bid will involve Lyth Valley representatives talking to the Environment Agency to establish the annual cost of keeping the pumps running so a levy per acre, household or business can be worked out. South Lakeland District Council will also have to be consulted as it would have to collect any levy imposed.