West Leeds residents are being urged to have their say on planned flood defences which environmentalists fear could ‘damage’ Rodley Nature Reserve.
Trustees at the wetland say the site is likely to be ‘affected significantly’ by the planned second phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.
The proposals involve building a moveable weir at the scrubland end of the Reserve, together with a widening of the river bank.
The weir will be lifted at times of flood conditions to slow down the flow of the river and protect downstream locations by using the Reserve to store flood water.
But Rodley Nature Reserve trustee director David Nesham said:
“The affect will be to increase depth of water across the Reserve up to two metres higher than that experienced in December 2015. However, we have to accept that floods will occasionally occur naturally with or without the Flood Alleviation Scheme.”
The Trust is preparing a response to the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council in the hope that alternative water storage sites can be found – and is encouraging people to take part in a consultation into the proposals. Mr Nesham added:
“We will be negotiating with the scheme designers to try and ensure the least possible damage to the Reserve and ensure the maximum protection of the site for wildlife and its visitors.
“In the meantime we would value your input into the consultation process to help inform decisions based on the value of the Reserve to wildlife, wellbeing, education and the community as a whole.”
Copies of the FAS Consultation Leaflet and Questionnaire is available in the Visitor Centre at the Reserve or from the Leeds City Council Flood Alleviation Scheme website. Electronic responses to the questionnaire are not possible but comments on the proposals can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rodley Nature Reserve is registered as a charity and finalised a 60-year lease with Yorkshire Water for the site in August 1998.
The flood scheme follows the Boxing Day 2015 floods which left swathes of Kirkstall, Burley, Armley and Leeds city centre under water as the River Aire broke its banks.
As reported by The Dispatch last month, proposals include:
- Creating new woodland areas by planting hundreds of thousands of tree saplings on council-owned land, including unspecified locations in Kirkstall
- The removal of a disused bridge at Milford Place in Burley and the removal of a platform under Gotts Bridge, Kirkstall.
- Where possible, using sites in Leeds to temporarily retain flood waters when levels are high. Control gates would be used to fill and then release water from the stores back into river when safe to do so. Initial major sites identified in the report include Rodley Nature Reserve and at Apperley Bridge.
- Smaller temporary flood water storage sites have been identified at Kirkstall Meadows (the rugby practice pitches on the opposite bank to Kirkstall Abbey) and Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve
- Removing existing obstructions along the river to help reduce water levels, along with also lowering the riverbed in places along the Kirkstall corridor to improve its capacity and flow.
- Building raised defences along with landscaping, terracing, embankments and walls.
The consultation ends on November 16 and has already included a series of public events in Burley and Kirkstall.