There are currently 6 severe flood warnings, 25 flood warnings and 51 flood watches in place across the UK

Evacuations have taken place in towns and villages in the North West of England as floodwaters rise, driven by heavy rainfall, saturated ground and swollen rivers.

Emergency services responded by evacuating residents in the Cumbrian villages of Keswick, Kendal, Cockermouth, and ensuring people are taking precautions in Carlisle, Appleby, and Low Crosby.

Catchments across the Lake District were inundated with 175mm of rain. An additional 100mm of rain is expected over the North West today (November 20).

Hundreds of properties have now been affected by flooding in Cumbria.

The Environment Agency currently has 6 severe flood warnings, 25 flood warnings and 51 flood watches in place across the country.

Flood defences at Cockermouth on the River Cocker and Derwent have been overtopped. But in Carlisle, new flood defences are providing protection to over 2500 properties. Locals worked throughout the night to erect temporary defences for an extra 400 properties. But pockets of Carlisle are still at risk.

New flood defences on the River Conwy in north Wales protected almost 100 properties in the villages of Llanrwst and Trefrw last night, where river levels were the highest recorded for 25 years.

Robert Runcie, Environment Agency Director of Flood and Coastal Risk, said: "After persistent heavy rain combined with saturated ground and full rivers across Cumbria, the decision was taken to evacuate residents in towns and villages across the Lake District, before the onset of serious flooding.”

“Since this morning Environment Agency officers have been helping emergency services coordinate community groups that are going house-to-house ensuring people were taking precautions and evacuated where necessary.”

“These emergency plans were established following the Cumbria floods of 2005 and have worked successfully. The last thing we want is floodwater putting lives at risk,” he said.

There are now 6 Severe Flood Warnings for:

• River Kent at Burneside, Bournville, Bridge St, Carling Dale, Ivy Cresent, New Road and St.

• River Kent at Burneside, Steeles Row and Carling Steps.

• River Greta at Keswick, Crosthwaite and Limepots Road, High Hill and Church Lane Areas.

• River Cocker at Cockermouth.

• River Eamont at Eamont Bridge, Kemplay Foot, Skirsgill Lane and Southwaite Green Mill.

• River Cocker at Southwaite Bridge.

Interview with Environment Agency Chief Executive Dr Paul Leinster