Council chiefs give go-ahead to cutting edge flood defence scheme

Watch a video ‘fly though’ animation of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme which takes you through the flood defences along length of the scheme, on the River Aire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ-_MZyll94

Senior councillors have agreed final proposals for a cutting edge flood defence scheme which aims to provide Leeds city centre and over 3,000 homes and 500 businesses with protection against a one in 75 year flood event from the River Aire.

The council’s executive board has approved details of the city centre and Holbeck scheme that will see the replacement of the existing fixed weirs at Crown Point and Knostrop with moveable weirs that can be lowered in flood conditions to reduce river levels and the threat of river flooding.

The use of moveable weirs will place Leeds at the forefront of national flood defence schemes. This pioneering technology will be the first of its kind to be installed in the UK although they are tried and tested in other countries.

An island at Knostrop Cut which separates the river from the canal will also be removed to allow the river and canal to merge. This will create additional flood storage to assist the flow of water to lower water levels in flood conditions. Low level flood defences in the city centre will also be constructed.

There are no formal flood defences along the River Aire currently. The city had narrowly avoided major flooding in 2000 with further near misses in 2004, 2007 and 2008. Estimates from the Environment Agency have suggested that over 3,000 homes and 500 businesses are at risk and any major flood from the River Aire could cause £400 million of direct damage.

The Leeds Flood Alleviation scheme is expected to cost £44.8m and is being funded by contributions from Leeds City Council, the Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture (Defra), the Environment Agency and the Department for Business Industry and Skills (BIS).

Work in the city centre and Holbeck is due to start this year in late summer and to be completed by the end of 2016. Advanced work is already underway at Woodlesford, which is expected to complete by July 2014.

The project is being delivered by Leeds City Council working closely with the Environment Agency and other partners.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member for the economy and development, said:

“This is a vitally important scheme for the city, not just because of the threat to lives and property from floods but also the positive impact it will have on the growth and regeneration of the Leeds economy, particularly the South Bank area. It will also give much-needed protection to key transport infrastructure and access routes we rely on to keep the city moving.

“By using cutting edge flood defence technology, we can provide sound flood defence for the city that is good value for money, as we have to weigh the cost of the scheme against the potential costs that would be caused by flooding to the city centre.”

Adrian Gill, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said:

“Leeds has narrowly avoided significant flooding to the city centre on a number of occasions in recent years. As a major residential, economic and transport hub this would not only cause disruption to the city, but also the surrounding area.”

“The Environment Agency, Leeds City Council and everyone involved in the project have worked extremely hard over many years to develop a workable scheme for Leeds and secure the necessary funding. Today’s announcement will enable work to commence in the city centre and Holbeck later this summer.”

Note to editors:

Flood risk is not just the likelihood of flooding, but the possible damage a flood could do as well.

The likelihood of flooding is described as the chance that a location will flood in any one year. If a location has a 1% chance of flooding each year, this can also be expressed as having:

• a 1 in 100 chance of flooding in that location in any year

• betting odds of 100 to 1 against a location being flooded in any year

However, this doesn't mean that if a location floods one year, it will definitely not flood for the next 99 years. Nor, if it has not flooded for 99 years, will it necessarily flood this year.


For media enquiries please contact:

Laura Ferris

Leeds City Council press office,

Tel 0113 247 5472

Email: laura.ferris@leeds.gov.uk