THE Yorkshire town of Pickering used to be prone to flooding and in 2007 suffered great damage.

The Environment Agency proposed to spend £20 million building defensive walls through the town. The townspeople opposed this and successfully persuaded the authorities to work instead on slowing the flow of the river above the town.

Shortly after the work (costing only £2 million) was finished, heavy rainfall caused massive floods in the region but Pickering was safe. It is doubtful whether the wall would have protected the town from such a large flood.

The Environment Agency admits the proposed walls through Kendal would not protect the town from the equivalent of Storm Desmond and, in increasing the speed of flow, would be likely to exacerbate damage to the town’s bridges.

Flood defences are not the answer - we need flood prevention, concentrating efforts upstream not only of Kendal but also of Staveley and Burneside, slowing the flow of the Kent and its tributaries.

This is not about trees versus people. Such flood prevention work would be primarily for the benefit of those who suffered in Storm Desmond and who may be vulnerable to future floods. Secondly it would save for our townspeople our lovely river with its trees, dippers, otters and other wildlife.

In future years, will a group of people be able to stand on Stramongate Bridge looking down on an otter eating a fish, as we did on New Year’s Day 2020?

Judith Robinson