IT WAS a relief to well over 1,000 households in and around Kendal to learn that the Environment Agency's flood relief plan for the Kendal area will go ahead (Gazette, May 9, 'Flood plan agreed').

The Government has supported the unanimous view of our Westminster MP, our town,district and county councils and all of our local Flood Action Groups that the plans of the experts in the environment and flood protection, the Environment Agency, should take precedence over the prejudices and personal agendas of the 'Kendal-in-aspic/ let-them-flood' brigade spearheaded by Friends of the Lake District, the civic society and recent correspondence to the Gazette such as Geoff Brambles' attempt at ironic humour (Letters, May 9, 'Get ready for a new view') and Ruth Southall's plaintive cry to save trees (Letters, May 9, 'Don't chop down the trees').

Ms Southall's plea leads me directly to the main point of this letter; what a wonderful opportunity we now have to make Kendal a civic leader in planned arboriculture and treescape.

We have a net gain of around 3,500 new, native, deciduous trees, many semi-mature at six metres high, to plan into our riverside landscape.

That some of the existing trees, many nearing life expiry, will go is the one negative to set against this exciting, positive prospect. Despite some claims to the contrary, the riverscape through Kendal has not been 'natural' since at least the 18th century, and the latest 1960/70s' canalisation was unattractive, brutal and totally ineffective against the climate-changed, 1-in-100 year flood threat against which we are now offered protection plus the chance to rethink some aspects of previous unattractive and failed schemes.

The Tree Council recently published some research to show that, for the UK to achieve 'zero net carbon' by 2050, we need the carbon capture and sequestration of an extra three billion trees, especially young, vigorous trees in urban areas.

It suggests that each of our 66 million population plant, establish and care for at least one new tree each year. What a wonderful head-start the 3,500 new trees of the Environment Agency scheme offers to the 30,000 or so Kendalians!

Other towns and cities in the UK have already shown us the way when faced with the need to manage urban trees. Even Sheffield, where dangerous urban trees were decimated by a cash-strapped and safety-conscious council, has taken a positive view and is simply planting more trees in appropriate places ( A national movement ( already exists to give us guidance and encouragement.

The choice is ours; we can sit on the side-lines and whinge and snipe at the plans of experts in the environment (the clue is in their name!) or we can embrace their vision for a safe, flood-free to the best possible level, and differently-beautiful town, enhanced by so much new, planned planting and new public recreation areas.

Kendal has evolved over the centuries. It is not a natural phenomenon like the Lake District, which the 'Friends' seek to preserve with Wordsworthian jealousy for their select few.

Our grandchildren's grandchildren will certainly curse us if we fail to future-proof their town, their heritage, and capitulate to the 'let-it-flood' doom-mongers.

Let us look to our town, district and county councils and, yes, our civic society to give a positive lead at this exciting time.

Ian Kell