Senior Leeds councillors set to back Otley flood prevention plans
Plans to protect homes and businesses in Otley from the risk of flooding are set to move a step closer at a meeting next week.
At its meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 26 June, Leeds City Council’s executive board will be asked to give approval for the Otley Flood Alleviation Scheme to be formally submitted to the Environment Agency for its consideration, while a planning application for the scheme will also be approved to be submitted.
The scheme proposes an investment of up to £3.3million in a range of measures to protect Otley from the risk of flooding from the River Wharfe. The river reached its highest flow level on record in the Christmas floods of 2015, with 74 properties flooded in the town.
The preferred 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, landowners and stakeholders.
The plan would see a flood embankment created to the west of Billams Hill, running from Otley Bridge to property gardens at Newall Mount. This would be supported by the management of vegetation on the islands downstream of Otley Weir. Together the two elements would offer a one-in-25-year level of protection against the risk of flooding, which is above the level experienced by the flood of Christmas 2015. Carrying out these measures would not increase flood risk elsewhere along the River Wharfe.
The scheme has government funding of up to £2m in place, including £491,000 from the Environment Agency which has been invested in feasibility work and developing the plan to Outline Business Case stage. Leeds City Council is currently exploring a range of options to secure the remainder of the funding including developer contributions, while it is also hoped efficiency savings can be made as the project is carried out.
With executive board endorsement, the outline business case for the scheme would be presented, with planning approval being sought and detailed designs finalised. Construction could then start next summer with the scheme completed by the end of 2020.
The Otley scheme is running alongside a programme of flood prevention measures either carried out or planned across the city. These include the next phase of the main Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme to invest a further £112.1m in measures to achieve a one-in-200-year-level of protection along the River Aire.
Leeds City Council executive member for environment and active lifestyles Councillor Mohammed Rafique said:
“The Otley Flood Alleviation Scheme has a vital role to play in providing protection and reassurance for residents and businesses in the town against the growing threat of extreme weather events and flooding from the River Wharfe.
“Together with all the flood works we have in our programme happening across the city, projects like this underline our commitment to tackling flood threat in all of our vulnerable communities, taking a comprehensive and catchmentwide approach to providing the best level of protection as soon as we can.”
To see the executive board report, go to https://bit.ly/2Zxvdhm (agenda item 23).
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