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Carlisle Floods Due To Poor River Maintenance, Not Climate Change

February 10, 2017

By Paul Homewood





It is just over a year since Storm Desmond brought devastating floods to Carlisle.

Soon after the Carlisle Flood Action Group was formed, and they have now published a very full and highly technical account of the floods.

This is the first part of the Executive Summary:







Although Storm Desmond was severe by any account (and the report later accepts that it may have been exacerbated by global warming), the real problem was lack of river maintenance and poor management. This of course is a rerun of the Somerset floods in 2014.


The report draws particular attention to the Botcherby Bridge, which crosses the River Petterill, a tributary of the River Eden, a short way downstream.




The accumulation of gravel and vegetation led to the water backing up, before overflowing the banks and outflanking the flood defences downstream.

The report describes the sequence of events:





The report goes on to describe similar problems at other pinch points along the river, and the build up of silt in the Solway Estuary, which prevents the River Eden from draining quickly enough in times of flood.

It also criticises the policy of re-wilding:





The report describes the government’s attempts to blame the floods on climate change as a “knee jerk run for cover to deflect criticism of inadequate river management and maintenance”, and goes on:






Just as with the Somerset floods, the Environment Agency has a lot of questions to answer.

  1. February 10, 2017 2:31 pm

    Are we going to now hear the term “Storm Denier?”

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      February 10, 2017 2:52 pm

      It’s all consistent with Climate Change models, as are all nasty events that happen.

  2. Nick Dekker permalink
    February 10, 2017 2:56 pm

    I am a civil engineer and I never heard anyone claim that the Carlisle flooding was due to climate change. What we are seeing is the result of decades of underinvestment in our infrastructure, roads, rail, electricity generation, housing and even flood prevention.

  3. Tom O permalink
    February 10, 2017 2:57 pm

    I am looking at pictures of what obviously are very old bridges. I would have a very hard time to believe “the design of the bridge” was a problem, but I can clearly see that arches of the bridges are not over water. Yes, the bridge probably did act, to a degree, like a dam with the spill gates open since the full flow area of the water was not available. Silly to pretend the bridge was an issue when it hasn’t been in the past. But the volume of flow lost to encroachment of the banks obviously would cause the water on the upstream side to be higher than the water of the downstream side when the volume able to pass under the bridge exceeded the space to pass through. This isn’t a climate issue, but, as the report implies, a “man-made” issue in that no one paid attention to the river. We humans tend not to pay attention to things that are working, and it is obvious that in the past, the flooding on the river wasn’t that severe, or someone might have done a little dredging there..

    • TinyCO2 permalink
      February 10, 2017 3:18 pm

      Very old bridges but in a place that regularly floods. So it’s wrong to say that the bridges aren’t an issue. People have paid attention to the rivers, the EA stopped people acting on the problems.

    • Bloke down the pub permalink
      February 10, 2017 5:19 pm

      Something that the photos do not show, is that during storm surges, there is a strong likelihood that branches and other floating debris will be washed downstream. The narrower the gap under the bridge, the greater the likelihood that floating debris will get stuck and further restrict the flow of water.

  4. February 10, 2017 3:20 pm

    The main messages are that the problem was caused by poor local management and the Environment Agency. There was a time when the local farmers and land owners looked after the rivers and drains. Now they are in the hands of an ignorant bureaucracy making decisions from afar, all in the name of being green. Local landowners are now only allowed to remove debris from a river and not to manage the river and ensure that problems don’t arise.

    A bridge near my house was in danger of being washed away as a tree-covered island had formed just upstream from the bridge causing the buttresses to begin to be eroded. The bureaucrats in charge of watercourses and bridges weren’t prepared to do anything about it. The highways workmen who occasionally come and check, and if necessary repair the bridge, know what is going on by the bureaucrats they report to. They advised to get the island removed on the quiet, so a local farmer came with his chainsaw and JCB and removed the trees and the island. Job done and the river flows quite happily again. This all done unlawfully and despite the useless bureaucrats who get paid a fortune for doing nothing of any use to man or beast.

    PS don’t tell anyone.

  5. Athelstan permalink
    February 10, 2017 3:38 pm

    I am a civil engineer and I never heard anyone claim that the Carlisle flooding was due to climate change.

    Funny to say, that, my recollections are a bit different mate, though of course, I’m no civil engineer.

    The Met Office has warned that “all the evidence” suggests climate change played a role in the floods which have devastated thousands of homes following Storm Desmond.


    So said HMG

    and this silly old duffer…………………..

    I don’t know if you would be able to access the records – very probably not, sedimentation is a problem which doesn’t go away – in mature lower river systems, rivers erode in their upper catchments and then as they slow deposit their loads.
    What I’d like to see is a comparison of estimated/easured level of river bed in the 70’s when compared to what level it as in 2015.

    Sufficed to say, the Victorians understood it pretty well, some rivers and not least the Eden need regular, determined and integrated management, what they don’t need is a overall agency dedicated by the EU diktats – to saving the creepy crawlies and bloviating about “river catchment management” without a clue as to what that actually means.

  6. February 10, 2017 4:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Once again the ‘climate change’ card is played by authorities to excuse their own failings.

  7. February 10, 2017 6:29 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    So it is manmade after all 😉

  8. February 10, 2017 11:55 pm

    Reblogged this on Floating-voter.

  9. John F. Hultquist permalink
    February 11, 2017 5:14 pm

    I am in Washington State, but we have similar issues.
    Locally the small streams in my location have been used for irrigation since about 1880. Each year the locals would go along the streams and remove fallen trees, sand and gravel, or anything that “pinched the flow.”
    Within the last 30 years environmental rules — think endangered Salmon issues — have topped the priority list of State agencies and now there are large fines and restoration requirements if anyone does anything in or near the streams. Official projects can only be approved if they are in support of Salmon recovery. These proceed very slowly with multiple reviews, costly delays, and lots of other people’s money. There ought to be multiple small projects going on every year. Instead, one project gets done about every 5 or 6 years.
    Meanwhile, the rest of the streams are slowly clogging up.
    A “natural” disaster is in the making.

  10. Shale Watcher permalink
    February 12, 2017 8:55 pm

    A similar case of misattribution probably applies to the Uckfield floods which are pictured on the front of Prince Charles’ book on Climate Change. There have been floods in Uckfield for centuries, long before industrialisation. In this case the arch of the bridge carrying the main road over the river is probably too small to take the river in flood and the flow is also partly obscured near the town centre by an old listed corn mill. So, if the floods are the result of climate change, it is only part of the cause at most.

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