FLOOD-hit Lake District hoteliers, business owners and residents are preparing to press the Environment Agency for major "action" to protect homes and livelihoods.

They will be joined by MP Tim Farron as they seek assurances their properties will be safeguarded from another disaster like those seen in November 2009 and December 2015. Both winter floods devastated dozens of tourism businesses and private homes around Windermere's shores and the River Leven.

Tomorrow's crunch meeting of the Windermere Lake Levels Group follows the release of a major report by the Environment Agency this week.

The 70-page document takes a detailed look at 43 potential flood prevention measures for the river and the lake.

"Do Nothing is not a realistic scenario", concludes the report, and two "leading options" emerge:

L a 4.8km underground culvert costing £29.3 million to divert excess water from Windermere during a storm

L and a package of works costing £3.6 million including river dredging at the lake's southern outlet; increasing water flow at the "bottleneck" Backbarrow Bridge; and constructing flood defence walls at Newby Bridge.

The Government is likely to put in £2 million maximum, says the report, leaving a shortfall of £27.3 million or £1.6 million.

Several concerned residents with professional backgrounds in engineering, hydraulics and commercial law say the report overlooks their preferred option - building a pipeline beside the Lakeside to Haverthwaite railway to siphon off excess water when heavy rainfall threatens a flood.

Professor Paul Wrobel, who lives in Claife parish, said the 3.5km overground pipeline would be "much smaller, shorter, cheaper and have less impact" than the culvert and would also be "climate change-proof".

He described the second "leading option" from the report as "a hell of a piece of work". He said it was "extremely unlikely" to ever happen because 100,000 tons of rock would have to be excavated from the River Leven.

Prof Wrobel said it was vitally important to "bat as a team" to find a solution that protected all three locations - the lake, Backbarrow and Newby Bridge.

"Whatever happens it will cost millions of pounds," he said, and partners such as hoteliers, Cumbria County Council and UNESCO would have to help pay.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron praised the determination of residents and business owners. He told the Gazette he would "get behind" whichever project made "the biggest difference to the local community".

"Our job is to continue to put pressure on the Government through the Environment Agency to not just come up with a good plan but to fund it," he added.