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Climate Change causes Flooding

November 14, 2019 10:03 AM
By Fiona Southern

Events in South Yorkshire this week will have brought back bitter memories to many Carlisle residents. As in our own city, the floods this week were caused by intense rain falling on the saturated and impermeable ground in the wider river catchments. There is clear evidence that the high rainfall events experienced in South Yorkshire this week and in Cumbria in 2015 are a result of climate change.

The Link Between Climate Change & Flooding

A recent paper [1] has shown that there has been an 11% increase in river flood levels in northern England during the past decade. The warmer atmosphere caused by climate change allows storms to carry more moisture, resulting in heavier rainfall. Higher rainfall causes soils to become saturated more rapidly and unable to absorb excess water. These conclusions are supported by a recent study undertaken by the University of Reading which highlighted the risk of more extreme flooding in the UK due to climate change [2].

Climate Change causes Flooding

The Financial Impact of Flooding

We can all remember the devastation caused in Carlisle by Storm Desmond. 2,128 properties were flooded [3] while across the county more than 1,000 businesses were directly affected by flood water with an average financial impact of £35,000 per business. [4] We need to do everything we can to ensure that this does not happen again but that if it does the city is prepared to deal with the crisis and its aftermath, including financial support to get businesses back on their feet and grants to adapt properties to ensure greater resilience to flooding. As your MP Julia will work with the City Council and government to ensure these plans are in place.

Protecting Carlisle Against Future Floods

The Cumbria Flood Action Plan recognises the need for multiple responses to flooding; we need better defences, improved warning systems and more appropriate land management within the catchments. The Carlisle flood defences will protect more than 1,600 homes and businesses by the time they are completed in 2021, but the halt to phase one construction due to bad weather is an ironic reminder of the on-going risk and the need for wider action.
It is essential that more attention is focused on catchment management in an effort to increase absorption of rainfall and slow the flow of water in the Eden, Caldew and Petteril during adverse weather conditions. The Cumbria Floods Partnership document "Reducing Flood Risk from Source to Sea" recognises this need and identifies water retention schemes upstream of Gamblesby, Cumrew and Stockdalewath, but much, much more is needed.

A Liberal Democrat government will create a £5bn flood prevention and adaptation fund to will help the UK build resilience against future flooding and ensure all communities can access the funds they need during periods of crisis.

Julia Aglionby - Upland Management

Julia's experience in upland management will be invaluable in ensuring that government support for farmers in the catchment is targeted at natural flood management techniques including leaky dams, river meandering and soil aeration and at climate change mitigation measures such as peat restoration and tree planting.
As MP for Carlisle Julia will work with the City Council to ensure that new developments, including the Garden Village, minimise areas of impermeable surfaces with fast run off and incorporate Sustainable Drainage Systems to manage stormwater as close to the source as possible and mimic natural drainage systems.

The Liberal Democrats will place climate change at the heart of government

We will achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the very latest and cut emissions by 75% by 2030.We will reorganise government to make it ready to end the climate emergency by restoring the Department for Climate Change, setting up a new Green Investment Bank and creating a new Chief Secretary of Sustainability in the Treasury to co-ordinate funds for cutting emissions. All Government departments would have a duty to cut emissions in their areas of responsibility.


  1. Nature volume 573, pages108-111- Blöschl, Hall, Živković
  2. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2216760-climate-change-will-boost-risk-of-extreme-flooding-in-northern-europe/#ixzz64nV8VSTR
  3. Carlisle Flood Investigation Report - Cumbria County Council/Environment Agency https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/elibrary/Content/Internet/544/3887/6729/6733/42811155021.pdf?timestamp=4378310197
  4. Weathering the Storm 2016/17