Government provides £40m of emergency funding to restore flood damaged transport links in Cumbria and Lancashire

UK floods

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The government is releasing £40m of emergency funding to repair transport links in flood-hit Cumbria and Lancashire.

The North-west of the country has been deluged over the Christmas period by Storm Eva, which came after Storm Desmond devastated the region earlier this month.

The funding from the Department for Transport will see Highways England begin design and construction work to repair the A591 - the road which runs north to south through the heart of the Lake District -  and investigate what is required to restore Pooley Bridge and Eamont Bridge, in Cumbria, come the new year.

The funding follows on from the government’s provision of up to £2m in the aftermath of the severe weather to enable the Cumbrian and Lancashire authorities to carry out initial assessments of the repairs required to roads and bridges.

Highways England has already been assisting Cumbria with assessing the extent of the flood damage to the local transport network and around 500 military personnel have been deployed to the flood-hit areas in the North to help tackle the floods.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We are determined to help families and businesses in Cumbria and Lancashire get back on their feet as soon as possible. This has been a very difficult time and I have enormous sympathy for people flooded out of their homes at Christmas. We will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the local communities as they strive to return to business as usual.

“A good local transport system is the lifeblood of this region and Highways England’s engineering expertise, backed by £40m funding from the Department for Transport, will support the work already being done to repair local roads and bridges damaged by the storm.”

Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, said: “We understand the difficulties of people trying to travel in an area hit by flooding and we are doing everything we can to help Cumbria.

“On behalf of Cumbria county council we and our supply chain partners will be working to rebuild the damaged section of the A591 as soon as possible so it is safe for road users, and to investigate what we can do to repair the A6 Eamont Bridge and the B5320 Pooley Bridge; this will allow the council to concentrate on other priorities to help its residents.”

The new funding package is in addition to the £6.1bn the government has committed to local authorities across England to help maintain the condition of local roads up to 2021 and follows on from the £60m already pledged by the government to support households and businesses affected by the flooding.

In the recent Spending Review, George Osborne promised £2.3bn of investment in flood defence projects to protect 300,000 homes by 2021 and protected flood maintenance funding. However, Defra, the department which overseas flood defence construction, saw its budget cut by 21% for the 2011-2015 period compared to the spending period of 2008-2011.

Accountancy firm PwC is estimating the cost of the two storms so far between £900m - £1.3bn.