Words: Richard Beecham, local democracy reporter
Councillors in Leeds have unanimously voted to approve a new 100-acre reservoir near Calverley as part of the latest steps to prevent future flooding in the city.
Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel met to discuss plans for the section of the River Aire running between Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall, which is set to include a flood storage reservoir, walls, sheet piling, earth bunds and scour protection.
Phase one of the scheme, which stretches from Leeds City Centre to Woodlesford, was finished in 2017, while a section between Leeds City Centre and Newlay Bridge was approved in 2019.
The plans were met with a warm reception by Leeds city councillors, who praised work by council officers for bringing the plans forward.
Coun Dan Cohen (Con) said:
“This is a really excellent proposal. It addresses a need but is done in a thought-out, sensitive and logical way. I am really impressed by this as a proposal.”
Coun Paul Wadsworth (Con) added:
“The scheme has to be there to stop the water coming down. There are odd little bits we might not like in the construction stage – it’s never perfect when you’re constructing it, but when you look at the stuff in the city centre, it is good quality and it is doing a good job.
“When it all blends in, and when it is used it will do the job.”
The latest proposals include a 101-acre flood storage reservoir in rural land between Calverley, Horsforth and Rawdon. The site would also include banking and the “realignment of the River Aire”.
A series of reinforced concrete and steel sheet pile walls will be installed in areas around the Apperley Bridge end of the scheme, to mitigate the flood risk caused by the work.
It is hoped the work will provide a “one in 200 year” cover, meaning there would be a 0.5 percent chance of flooding in a given year.
The panel then unanimously voted in favour of the plans.
Committee chairman Coun James McKenna (Lab, Armley) said:
“It is a scheme that is important to the city, and to the councillors who represent the wards the river passes through.
“The engineers and expertise has been brought to bear on this. I remember 2015, remembering helping communities in Kirkstall Road. Let’s get this built.”
Jenny Cooke, area flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, welcomed the decision. She said:
“This is a significant milestone for this ambitious project, which is one of the largest flood risk management schemes in the country. We’ll continue to work at pace with our partners to deliver better flood protection for people, businesses and homes and make them more resilient to climate change.”