Cocker Catchment Project

Background:

The River Cocker catchment covers a large area of the north-west of the Lake District National Park and includes the lakes of Buttermere, Crummock water and Loweswater. The Cocker joins the River Derwent at Cockermouth and has been responsible for repeated major floods in the town and in Lorton village, further upstream.

The Cocker is part of the River Derwent and tributaries Special Area of Conservation and contains some iconic landscapes, habitats and species.

Lots of organisations have an interest in the Cocker catchment and there is a lot of ongoing work including natural flood management, river restoration, peat restoration and access improvements.

The working group:

A working group has been established to ensure that there is an integrated approach within the Cocker catchment. Currently the following organisations are represented on the working group:

  • West Cumbria Rivers Trust (Chair)
  • Cumbria County Council
  • Environment Agency
  • National Trust
  • Woodland Trust
  • Cumbria Woodlands
  • Natural England
  • Cumbria Wildlife Trust
  • Cockermouth Flood Action Group and local community representation
  • United Utilities

What’s happened so far?

The West Cumbria Catchment Partnership agreed that the Cocker was a priority catchment for natural flood management, particularly in light of the results of the Environment Agency appraisals which have concluded that further formal flood defences for Cockermouth are not viable at the current time.

A ‘facilitated farmer group’, hosted by West Cumbria Rivers Trust met regularly giving landowners and farmers the opportunity to share ideas and best practice.

West Cumbria Rivers Trust led a natural flood management project from 2018 to 2021 funded by DEFRA, which implemented measures to store and slow water in the landscape. Further funding has been secured through the Water Environment Grant and Green Recovery Challenge Fund to focus on improving water quality and habitat diversity.

More details on work delivered through the Cocker Catchment Restoration Project.

The National Trust Riverlands project is looking at the feasibility of river restoration projects which would help reduce flood risk, manage gravel loads and improve habitat. United Utilities are also undertaking studies to determine the best course of action after Crummock Water stops being used to supply drinking water.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust have completed restoration of degraded peat on Loweswater fells and have aspirations to restore peat in several other areas within the catchment. There are a number of smaller scale projects underway in the catchment by the River Corridors group, Woodland Trust and Cumbria Woodlands. The working group meet regularly to update on the progress of all of these projects and ensure that there is a joined up approach.

Images

A leaky dam in Whinlatter Forest

A series of leaky dams to ‘slow the flow’.