After the December 2015 Floods – Flood Recovery in North of England

The Environment Agency has been working in Cumbria and Yorkshire to aid communities recovering from the record-breaking December 2015 floods.


Since the devastating floods of early December 2015, the Environment Agency has inspected 3,000 flood defences in the area. Approximately one hundred projects have been recognised that need work before Autumn 2016.

Image: Environment Agency
Image: Environment Agency

In December 2015, Cumbria received 24 hours of extreme rainfall, the highest on record. 341mm of rain was recorded at Honister, with storms battering the region, making it the wettest December on record. Fourteen rivers in the region also had their highest flow ever recorded. Over 6,000 properties were flooded.

The Environment Agency has been working on the relief project, and 13 March, 2016 marked 100 days of relief. The aim is to complete all work by next winter, and has so far included the removal of silt and gravel at Keswick, Glenridding and Kendal, which amounted to 30,000 tonnes.

Flood Support Officers have been visiting communities and assessing each area on how flooding can be reduced in years to come. Forums have also been taking place between Cumbria County Council and the Environment Agency.

“This winter’s flooding has had a devastating effect on people in Cumbria and the Environment Agency is doing everything possible to restore protection to communities with a repair programme underway worth around £10 million,”” said the Environmental Agencies flood recovery manager, Kath Tanner.

“We want to tap into local knowledge and give local people a chance to shape our plans for the future to ensure we have the best possible plans in place to reduce the risk of flooding.”


Yorkshire also suffered major damage, after flooding hit in late December 2015.

The area has also been assessed by the agency in the last two months. Repair work will include embankments, flood walls, culverts and trash screens. The most urgent repair work has already been done on 100 projects, and 300 more are ongoing. Like Cumbria, a lot of the work involves the removal of displaced debris and collapsed bridges. The areas hit are also most likely to be the first hit next time flooding occurs, and so repair work with damage control is essential.

“This is one of the most damaging floods I have witnessed in my time working for the Environment Agency”

“This is one of the most damaging floods I have witnessed in my time working for the Environment Agency. It had a terrible impact on many communities across the region and many residents and businesses are not yet back in their properties,” said asset recovery manager Adam Tunningley. “The job we have before us, of getting our defences back in a condition they were prior to flooding, is a huge challenge.”

To put the numbers into perspective, Yorkshire usually sees a budget of £7.5 million per year spent on its flood defence systems. However, that amount has been spent on the recovery effort in the past two months, and there is a colossal amount of work yet to be done. The challenge is to complete the work while the area has good weather.