A major scheme to help protect Otley from flooding has been granted planning approval by Leeds City Council.
Last week, Leeds City Council approved a planning application for a flood embankment running along the west of Billams Hill, as well as vegetation management on the islands downstream of Otley weir.
The scheme has been put forward following detailed research and survey work by Leeds City Council, the Environment Agency and engineering consultants WSP, along with consultation with local residents, businesses and landowners.
Together, the measures will reduce the likelihood of flooding from the River Wharfe to a 4% (1 in 25 year) chance of occurring in any given year, a level of protection which is in excess of the devastation caused during the Boxing Day floods in 2015.
The risk of flooding to the area is currently as high as a 20% (1 in 5 year) chance of occurring in any given year.
An Outline Business Case (OBC) has also been approved by the Environment Agency which, in combination with planning approval, will enable the next stages of the project to go ahead, including enabling works for the embankment, detailed design and construction led by principal contractor BMMjv.
The scheme value is currently estimated to be £3.4million. Sufficient funding has been provided with support from central government, the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and Leeds City Council.
Enabling works to prepare the site for engineering works will begin this month, starting with some tree and vegetation management on land to the west of Billams Hill.
Every tree that is removed as part of these works will be replaced by three trees. A range of tree species will be planted across the site to mitigate any loss of vegetation and to enhance biodiversity. Wildflower planting will also take place across the site.
Construction is expected to begin in summer 2020.
Last month, storms Ciara and Dennis brought heavy rain and strong winds across Leeds, with Otley, North West Leeds and Allerton Bywater being the most affected by localised flooding issues.
Leeds City Council officers joined community groups, flood wardens, emergency services, the Environment Agency and partners to respond and help with the clean-up.
Councillor Mohammed Rafique executive member for environment and active lifestyles said:
“The planning approval given last week is a huge success for the residents in Otley who have yet again experienced the damage caused by flooding. In the wake of storms Ciara and Dennis, there has never been a more important time to deliver real and tangible measures that help build our resilience to future flooding events and reduce the risk to people in affected areas.
“I would like to thank the teams at Leeds City Council, the Environment Agency and all of our partners for their work in reaching this major milestone, as well as the residents who have inputted into the designs. I look forward to seeing the scheme coming into fruition later this year.”
John Woods Flood Risk Officer with the Environment Agency said:
“The approval of the Outline Business Case is an important step in delivering the Otley FAS. It says that the scheme is affordable, technically suitable and sustainable – essentially of all the options that were considered, this is the right one for Otley. It also formally releases the government’s funding for the scheme.”
Paul Swift Project Manager at WSP said: “This flagship scheme brings together the global expertise and local knowledge from WSP teams across the business, from environment and ecology to structures and flood and drainage. We have designed a future ready scheme that offers significant flood benefits to the local community, giving them adaptable protection for years to come.”
Gareth Farrier Divisional Director BMMjv said:
“The receipt of planning consent for the Flood Alleviation Scheme at Otley represents a key milestone for development within the heart of the town. Stakeholders have worked collaboratively, engineering a solution to afford protection to local residents and businesses, whilst providing an enhancement to the local area. BMMjv look forward to being part of the delivery team for this prestigious scheme.”