A £12million flood risk management scheme has been launched at Skirting Beck and Whangs Beck in Egremont.

On Wednesday Copeland Council’s mayor, Mike Starkie, was given the honour of digging the first turf, on work which will better protect 220 homes and businesses from flooding.

The launch follows flood prevention work by the Environment Agency to 43 properties in Croadalla Avenue and improved sustainable drainage systems.

Copeland Council’s mayor, Mike Starkie, said the start of the work was a momentous day for Egremont.

He said: “I was honoured to be asked to cut the first turf for what will be a transformational scheme for the town.

“The £12m flood risk management project has now started at Skirting Beck and Whangs Beck and will better protect 220 homes and businesses from flooding. Work is set to be completed in May 2021.

“I grew up in the area, and for as long as I can remember, there were regular floods, and numerous people over many decades suffered the devastation of their homes being flooded. Once would be bad enough, but many families have suffered this trauma over and over again.

"For some, even the sight of dark clouds would be enough to bring back this sense of dread.

"I’d like to pay tribute to the Environment Agency and all the partners that have played their part; Cumbria County Council, Copeland Community Fund, Copeland Borough Council, Castles & Coasts, Home Group and DEFRA.

“I’d also like to give special mention to Egremont’s borough and town councillors, including Sam Pollen, Mike McVeigh, who have dedicated years to achieving this result.

“It’s been a long road to get here today, but thanks to the tenacity of the local community and the commitment from all the aforementioned partners, this is a welcome day for the whole community.”

Implementation of the scheme will come as a relief to residents and businesses in the area, who have seen a long history of flooding on the Orgill estate and surrounding areas, notably in 1999, 2009, 2012 and 2013.

Flood storage areas consisting of flood walls and flood embankments will also be created at West Lakes Academy, Falcon Club and How Bank Farm on Skirting Beck, with further flood storage at Whangs Beck.

The scheme was given planning permission by Copeland Council last October and is being led by Environment Agency with support from Cumbria County Council, Copeland Council, Home Group, Copeland Community Fund, Castles & Coasts and DEFRA.

The project was formally launched on January 15, with a ceremonial event on land between the Falcon Club and West Lakes Academy, followed by a public drop-in session at the Falcon Club.

Work is expected to be completed in March 2021.

Small scale works will also be carried out around the town to reduce the risk of flooding from surface water.