Chancellor Philip Hammond has been invited to visit Kirkstall and Burley in an effort to break a multi-million pound deadlock over flood protection funding.
Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency are preparing the second phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, which is designed to deliver improved defences along to Kirkstall valley up to Calverley and Apperley Bridge following the Boxing Day floods of 2015.
The Government has made around £65m available for the scheme – but a funding gap of £23.3m still needs to be bridged before there is one-in-200-year level of protection wanted by civic chiefs.
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves and Council Leader Judith Blake have written to the Chancellor to invite him to Leeds to see the council’s flood defence plans and meet residents and businesses who will benefit from the scheme.
They also urged the Chancellor to offer additional funding for the project in the next spending review, which is expected later this year.
Reeves and Blake have written to the Chancellor to show that they are prepared to work constructively with the Government to help complete the project, nearly three and a half years on from the devastating Storm Eva floods.
In the letter, they said:
“We are grateful for the support that the Government has already committed to the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme. We are also pleased that at Treasury questions on 21 May the Chief Secretary made clear that the Government are keen to make progress on this project.
“However, the brutal reality is that homes and businesses in Kirkstall are still at high risk of flood damage because of the ongoing delay in delivering this scheme.
“We therefore urge you to consider our request for additional funding in the Comprehensive Spending Review to meet the £23.3M shortfall.
“We would also like to invite you up to Leeds to see our plans for the project and meet residents and businesses affected. It is our hope that we can work constructively together to mitigate the flood risk and ensure that homes and businesses are protected for the future.”
Leeds City Council has initiated a ‘two-stage approach’ by starting work on a more limited scheme which will provide a 1-in-100 year standard of protection, whilst efforts to meet the funding shortfall for the full 1-in-200 year project continue. That shortfall now stands at just £23 million.
In response to a parliamentary question from Reeves last week, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss said that the Government were “keen to make progress on this project”.
Leeds Council’s aim is to deliver a scheme which provides a 1-in-200-year level of protection against flooding in two steps.
Step one is a scheme offering a new flood defence walls and embankments providing a 1-in-100 year level of protection. This will start late 2019 if planning permission has been given.
Step two will see the scheme will be upgraded to the full one-in-200 year protection level once additional funding is secured. The work will include creating a large flood storage area, making use of an existing flood plain.
The scheme also includes a flagship natural flood management programme which will help reduce and control the flow of rainwater into the river. This will reduce the impact of climate change up to 2069.
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