Next phase of Leeds flood protection plans to be submitted

The next phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme including plans to plant thousands of new trees along the catchment of the River Aire is set to be put to the government.

At the meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board, senior councillors are to be asked to approve formally submitting the plans in an outline business case to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Following the successful opening of the £50 million first phase of the scheme serving the city centre, Holdback and Woodlesford in October, phase two identifies measures further upstream. It also looks at areas beyond the city boundary to further reduce the possibility of the river flooding in Leeds, as well as additional measures to offer protection for the South Bank area of the city centre which is a key future economic driver for Leeds.

The phase two plans have a strong focus on Natural Flood Management (NFM) and proposes water storage areas to be created and developed, operated by control gates system meaning water can be held and then released back into the river when it is safe to do so. They also would remove existing obstructions along the river to help reduce water levels, as well as lowering the riverbed in places to improve its capacity and flow.

Phase two would also see some new infrastructure measures installed including landscaping, terracing, embankments and walls.

If approved by the government the proposal created by Leeds City Council working with the Environment Agency and BMM jV Limited would begin early 2019.

Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “Since these proposals were first outlined a lot of very positive conversations and consultations have taken place, with the ‘natural-first’ approach of using nature and the landscape to work for us to protect our communities from flooding resonating very well with people.

“As is to be expected with a proposal of this scale there are some localised issues which have been raised but we will continue to engage with people to address them. Given the level of ambition of this next phase of the scheme, which is much bigger than phase one, we are confident in now presenting the plans to Defra for formal consideration.

“Following the devastation of the floods of Christmas 2015, the government asked us to work with the Environment Agency and partners to ascertain the level of defensive measures needed to provide reassurance to our residents and business of what was needed to avoid a repeat. This plan has been extensively researched and developed so we look forward to working with the government to deliver it for the communities of Leeds and the wider region.”

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