The government has announced a further £22.3 million investment for flood prevention in Leeds.
Subject to final business case approval, the investment will fund the next phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme on the River Aire.
The funding, which includes an element (£1.3 million) for the Natural Flood Management element of the scheme, would go a considerable way to resolving the previous £23.7 million shortfall in the programme to allow it to be completed in full.
“This commitment by the government to allocate additional funding towards flood schemes in Leeds is welcome news and a huge endorsement of the tenacity and determination shown by all those who have continued to work so hard to ensure our city and communities are protected from the devastating impact of flooding,” said Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake.
“We are still working to understand the details of the funding being made available but this announcement will be particularly significant for the next step of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme Phase 2 and we look forward to working with our local partners and central government towards delivering the scheme in full.”
Phase one of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme was completed in 2017, investing £50 million in flood prevention measures including state-of-the-art moveable weirs to protect the city centre and further defences downstream to better protect Woodlesford.
Following the Christmas 2015 floods when the impact of Storm Eva affected nearly 3,500 residential and commercial properties in Leeds, a plan for a comprehensive catchmentwide further phase investing £112.1 million along the Kirkstall Corridor and upstream was devised following extensive survey and modelling work by Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency.
To enable work to start on phase two of the scheme in January, Leeds City Council put forward a two-step approach, with the first step using the funding already secured to deliver an initial one-in-100-year level of flood protection. This includes raised defences using walls and engineered structures to reduce the threat of flooding.
Once the remaining funding and approval had been secured a final second step would follow including the construction of a new control structure for a flood storage area on land between Calverley and Horsforth and further defences upstream around Apperley Bridge in Bradford.
Together with a comprehensive Natural Flood Management approach including the planting of up to two million trees, storage areas and upland management, when fully completed the scheme would raise the overall level of protection for Leeds to the one-in-200 year level needed to prevent a repeat of the Storm Eva impact, as well as mitigating the impacts of climate change until 2069.
As part of the two-step approach devised by Leeds City Council, contractual arrangements are in place to allow the final element of the works to be carried out with no delays once the funding and planning permissions have been secured, ensuring the measures can be completed to provide protection and reassurance to communities in Leeds and along the River Aire as soon as possible.
Leeds City Council itself has contributed a further £10 million as part of its commitment to ensuring the completion of the scheme in full.