An academic at the University of Huddersfield has called for a radical rethink on flood prevention.

As Cumbrian Police urged people to stay indoors after the river in Glenridding burst its banks again last night, Dr Julia Meaton, a senior lecturer in sustainability, said big changes were needed.

In a blog for the university, Dr Meaton said flood prevention wasn’t simply a matter of money.

She said: “More investment will certainly help and plugging the £500 million shortfall in flood defence plans identified by the Committee on Climate Change would be a start but this is a leaky bucket that will continually need filling.

“A radical rethinking of our approach is required. We need to try and understand and acknowledge what we are doing that makes flooding worse – and that means critically assessing wider catchment management practices.

Storm Desmond brings extensive flooding to Carlisle, Cumbria.
Storm Desmond brings extensive flooding to Carlisle, Cumbria.

“For example, how can we manage the landscape so that the hills hold on to rainfall more effectively? Can we grow more trees that will slow the water’s downhill progress and should we really be dredging and channelling rivers so that water reaches urban pinch points more quickly?”

Dr Meaton said bigger and higher flood defences were not the answer and added: “Maybe the first thing we should do is acknowledge that we can’t protect everyone.

Dr Julia Meaton of the University of Huddersfield
Dr Julia Meaton of the University of Huddersfield

“This doesn’t just mean getting used to the fact that some of us will get flooded but it does include that.

“This will help build psychological resilience but that needs to be complemented by new architectural designs, flood resistant construction and retro-fitting, holistic engineering solutions working with utility suppliers, and Government-subsidised insurance for those priced out of protection.

“Doing what we have always done will not work in this new era of climate breakdown. We better get used to it and start pro-actively finding pragmatic, flexible solutions,” she said.

After Storm Desmond caused devastation at the weekend the village of Glenridding was hit by fast-flowing floodwater overnight.

The scene of devastation in the Cumbrian village of Glenridding after the beck broke it's banks for the second time in a week on December 10
The scene of devastation in the Cumbrian village of Glenridding after the beck broke it's banks for the second time in a week on December 10

A “multi-agency” response, which included the military and fire services, got under way last night amid concerns that the latest flooding may endanger lives.

READ MORE: Huddersfield floods: 20 days' rain in 24 hours - and more on the way

READ MORE: More rain on the way for Huddersfield - and the unsettled weather could continue for weeks

In a statement early on Thursday morning Cumbria Police said that while the flood water was beginning to recede the situation remained “extremely dangerous”.

It said: “Cumbria Police would like to urge the people of Glenridding to stay inside their properties to keep themselves and their families safe.

“Earlier the river water spilled over the banks into the village. The flood water is now starting to recede.”