SINCE Christmas, and exactly four years on from the last flood devastation of Kendal and surrounds, the Westmorland Gazette has carried extensive reportage on the "news" events created by the publicity stunts of protestors against the Kent flood relief scheme.

The Gazette's Letters page has given extensive coverage to their joint and several opinions on the subject.

On January 9, the first Comment editorial under the new Editor, Vanessa Sims, was used to try to validate the re-opening of debate over the flood scheme ('Nobody will forget the devastation of flooding').

Memories are short. The flood devastation in 2015/16 to lives, homes, mental wellbeing, businesses, tourism and infrastructure seems to be forgotten. Worse still, the careful, thorough and professional work of the Environment Agency and its expert consultants is held in contempt by protestors and seemingly questioned by our "newspaper of record".

Perhaps most worrying of all, the massive consultation exercise over the last four years, the detailed consideration of all alternatives and the totally unanimous approval of the proposed scheme at every level of technical and democratic political scrutiny, from Europe to town and parish councils, is discounted as irrelevant by those individuals who dislike the scheme.

Judging by the protestors' letters, they are all hydrological and environmental experts. The truth is that, like the White Queen in Through the Looking-Glass, they choose to believe "six impossible things before breakfast".

No amount of natural flood measures (NFM) in the Kent catchment can make a significant difference in a 1-in-100-year flood event; even tree planting on every fell plus a "leaky dam" on every beck would probably only slow the flow by five to 10 per cent.

Natural flood measures can only ever be a small (but very welcome) part of any Kent scheme. Please, read the relevant academic paper (Natural Flood Risk Management in the Kent Catchment and its appendix, Kendal-NFM Technical Notes) and don't compare apples with bananas by saying the Kent is like Belford or Pickering, two completely different catchments. For a better comparison, have a look at the Morpeth scheme on the River Wansbeck.

The town- and riverscape of Kendal is completely manmade, evolved through centuries to serve the needs of a growing and prospering town. Our ancestor townsfolk completely re-channelled the river, built roads, houses and factories alongside it. They made the town liveable and functional and only then, over time, they added the niceties of grass and trees.

The present-day protestors seek to reverse this priority; to make their present-day aesthetic preferences dominant over the proven, debated and agreed practical priorities of the living and lived-in town, and to ignore the increasing threat to the town as our climate evolves.

If I may be fanciful, I see Kendal as a growing child, a child with a fantastic future ahead but blighted by recurrent but curable bouts of a crippling illness; floods! The Environment Agency are world-class surgeons with a fantastic track record of bringing relief from this crippling disease. Yes, there will be some tissue scarring, but the patient will go on to grow and prosper and, in time, scars will heal to a new beauty.

The protestors are homeopaths; a dilute tincture of gobbledegook will do the job! Or, worse still, they are like some fringe religion who believe all intervention is wrong; nature will heal itself!

Surgery has been debated ad infinitum and agreed. To extend this analogy, it is to the town's eternal shame that the "nurses" preparing the "patient" for "surgery", the surveyors who are doing test bores and digs for the flood defences, report abuse from some members of the public.

I guess we can also anticipate Swampy-style gestures of civil disobedience from the protestors when the work proper begins. Please, Kendal; No!

Ian Kell

Secretary, Benson and Sandes Flood Action Group