A66 & communities flood alleviation and Newlands beck restoration


After flooding in 2007, the Pitt Review highlighted the areas of the Highways England road network where flood risk needed to be addressed. Since then Highways England have been working hard and only a few areas remain where work is still needed.  One of these is the A66 between Braithwaite and Thornthwaite which floods in large events from the overtopping of Newlands and Pow beck. Any work to reduce flood risk reduction to the A66 could also tie in to planned work by the Environment Agency to reduce flood risk to Braithwaite village.

Concurrently, West Cumbria Rivers Trust have a long held aspiration to restore Newlands Beck. The stream has historically been straightened and frequently needs maintenance to keep it in its current course. Reinstating meanders to Newlands Beck and giving it a more natural course would ‘slow the flow’, contributing to reducing downstream flood risk, improve habitat for a wide range of species and reduce the amount of maintenance required to the stream and footpath. Newlands Beck flows under the A66 so a restoration project would need to tie in to any changes to the road. 

A working group was established to look an integrated approach to reducing flood risk to the A66 road, Portinscale and Braithwaite villages and restoring Newlands Beck. Lots of people and organisations have an interest in this catchment, not least the farmers, business owners and residents.

The working group:

The working group is chaired by Highways England. Currently, the following organisations/groups are represented on the working group:

  • Highways England (Chair)
  • Environment Agency
  • Natural England
  • Cumbria County Council
  • Highways England appointed consultants
  • Lake District National Park Authority
  • West Cumbria Rivers Trust
  • Above Derwent Parish Council / Braithwaite Flood Action Group
  • Local farmers
  • The Rivers Trust

What’s happened so far?

The modelling undertaken by the Environment Agency and Highways England showed there was no viable option for reducing flood risk to the village and the road. 

In the Newlands Beck catchment, a feasibility study was undertaken on options for restoring the river and look at the potential for Natural Flood Management throughout the valley.  A meeting for landowners and farmers was held in February 2019 to update them on the work being done and find out their aspirations for the catchment.

The Lake District National Park also led a project trialing creation of an area plan for the Newlands Valley as part of the development of the new Environmental Land Management Scheme. Farmers, landowners and practitioners worked together to create a plan for the valley.

Currently the working group is paused but opportunities for projects to deliver multiple benefits in the Newlands Valley are being explored.