IN THE wake of Storm Ciara, exasperated residents are calling for flood defence works on the River Kent to go ahead without delay.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has added his voice to those of flood campaign groups pressing for urgent action, saying: “After a weekend when flood water from the River Kent was just inches from people’s homes, it’s clear we had a lucky escape.

“It’s been four long years since Storm Desmond destroyed homes and businesses across our area, and the Environment Agency finally have a fully funded scheme ready to go.

“Now is not the time for dither and delay, but for action.”

Liz Dales, of Kendal’s Castle Flood Action Group, said: “The events this weekend show just how important the proposed flood measures are. We were on tenterhooks for about 48 hours, waiting on what would happen.”

In Burneside four homes are known to have flooded. “We were about 1cm from a substantial amount of others,” said Gayle Howarth, leader of the village’s flood resilience group and chair of Burneside Residents Association. “It really was very scary for them.”

She added: “People are very frustrated that we are still waiting for formal works to address the floods.”

Burneside resident Gary Walker was among those who helped deploy water pumps and sandbags. “People are sick and tired of it,” he said. “My neighbours have been flooded around six times since 2008. They can’t get insurance.”

Ian Kell, secretary of Kendal’s Benson Green and Sandes Avenue Flood Action Group, said river water lapped worryingly close to houses on Sunday and residents had closed their floodgates. “The predominant feeling at the weekend was fright. People were frightened, people didn’t sleep.”

He is calling on the Save the Heart of Kendal protest group to drop its calls for an independent review into the £76 million plans for flood defences on the Kent.

“It has taken us four years to get where we are, which is precisely nowhere in terms of actual flood defences.

“This is partly due to the bureaucratic and political processes necessary for the Environment Agency to do its job, but also partially due to the concerted efforts of organised protestors trying to prevent the whole of the Kent catchment from being protected against flooding.”

Maggie Mason, chair of Kendal’s North East Flood Action Group, has also called for flood defence work to proceed without delay.

Simon Thomas, a spokesman for Save the Heart of Kendal, told the Gazette: “The main thing that came out of the weekend is that the River Kent didn’t burst its banks.

“Phase one of the scheme will make things much worse along the river - the flow will be much faster and much more dangerous.”

The Environment Agency said Storm Ciara had given “a timely reminder how important it is to better protect our local area”.

Flood risk manager Stewart Mounsey said: “Given a few extra hours of extra rain and slightly higher river levels, many people could have had a much worse experience over last weekend.

“People in Burneside, currently waiting for the flood scheme and that unfortunately did flood this weekend, would have likely been better protected once these new defences are in place.”

Mr Mounsey said the proposed £76m Kendal scheme would reduce flood risk to 1,437 homes and 1,151 businesses in Kendal, Burneside, Staveley and Ings to a one per cent chance in any given year.

He said the EA was looking at the River Kent catchment as a whole and using a combination of methods to “best protect people and property from flooding”. He said natural flood management “won’t work on its own and needs to be used in combination with other more engineered solutions”.

Phase one - due to start this summer - will see at least six trees planted for every one removed, totalling more than 3,666 trees; 50 hectares of peatland restoration; and five hectares of habitat and recreation space improved.

Detailed designs are being drawn up for phases two and three, with plans to be submitted in summer 2021.

Mr Mounsey said public feedback was always welcome. Further consultation events and a new public information centre are being planned. Anyone with questions and comments can call 03708-506506 or email