[E]nvironmental surveys to determine wildlife populations across the River Kent have started to take place, as part of Environment Agency plans to reduce flood risk in the Kendal area.
The surveys, conducted by consultant ecologists on behalf of the Environment Agency, form part of the ongoing works by flood risk management authorities across Cumbria to reduce flood risk, from source to sea, following the devastation of Storm Desmond in 2015.
In Kendal, a short list of flood risk management options are currently being considered. These include upstream flood storage and flood walls or embankments to protect properties on both sides of the Rivers Kent and Mint.
The environmental surveys, currently taking place, will enable the Environment Agency to understand the ecology and physical environment of the area as well as local wildlife populations. This ensures existing habitats and environmental impacts are taken into account during the design of any future flood defence scheme.
The project has begun with a survey across the River Kent catchment for Great Crested Newts. The investigation has come at the right time for the protected Great Crested Newt, as the species can only be reliably monitored during spring and early summer when they spend their time in ponds in order to breed.
Another protected species will also be taken into consideration during the project as throughout June, ecologists will be on the lookout for bat roosts during extensive tree surveys throughout Kendal town centre.
Paul Seaby Environmental Advisor for the Environment Agency said: “Although we have not yet identified a preferred option for the flood scheme in Kendal, we have decided to undertake these surveys at this early stage to ensure that there is no undue delay in our programme as a result of survey windows.
“These investigations will allow us to better understand the local ecology and enable us to reduce any impact our work might have. It will also help identify how we can incorporate environmental improvements into the design of the scheme.”
Further survey work will be undertaken throughout the year as the plans for the scheme develop. The locations for these first surveys are based on the shortlist of options presented at the Future Flood Risk Management community drop-in events held in February, which are available online in the ‘Latest News’ section of the Cumbria Strategic Flood Partnership website: www.cumbriastrategicfloodpartnership.org.