Council proposes Kirkstall Road flood defence funding compromise to Government

Kirkstall Road floods Leeds
Devastating: Kirkstall Road was flooded in 2015. PHOTO: Lizzie Coombes/@bettylawless

The Leader of Leeds City Council has today written to government with a proposal to help fund the next phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.

The letters follow a meeting by a Leeds delegation with Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey in London on Wednesday to discuss how the proposed £112.1 million phase two of the scheme to protect Leeds from potential flooding from the River Aire catchment could be funded and approved to progress.

At the meeting, the Minister supported the need for the city to have more substantial protection than a one-in-75-year flood level, which would not have proved effective during the Christmas floods of 2015 which hit the city.

But the Minister stopped short of committing support for the one-in-200-year protection put forward by Leeds City Council.

Freedom mills Kirkstall Road Leeds flooding
Businesses like Freedom Mills on Kirkstall Road were hit by the 2015 floods

Councillor Judith Blake has now written to both Thérèse Coffey and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss with a proposal which would see the government commit to £79.8m of funding to allow works on a one-in-100-year level of protection to begin next year.

Leeds City Council would underwrite £32.3m of funding to enable the delivery of the one-in-200-year level scheme originally proposed for phase two.

Cllr Blake said:

“Following the meeting this week we know the government is supportive of enhanced flood protection for Leeds in principle, but we really need to translate these words into actions with extreme weather becoming more frequent and communities in Leeds and neighbouring areas remaining vulnerable to the threat of flooding.

“We are happy to put forward this proactive proposal to the government so we can hopefully reach agreement and get on and deliver these works to give reassurance to our residents and businesses that we have done everything we can to protect them from flood risk.

“We look forward to hearing back from the government quickly, and would be happy to discuss this with them at any time as this remains of pivotal importance for our city.”

With phase one of the Leeds Floods Alleviation Scheme already completed offering protection to the city centre and Woodlesford, phase two offers a further range of complementary measures to protect the Kirkstall Corridor which was badly hit in 2015 and further measures up to and including the upper catchment of the River Aire.

Eslrier this week Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said the Government had committed a further £65m for a ‘second phase’ to protect a wider area including Kirkstall Road. She added:

“The funding we set aside is to protect homes across Yorkshire and elsewhere in England. I’m conscious there are other communities in Yorkshire also seeking funding.
“We will continue to work together to ensure we develop a scheme which provides the Leeds with the protection it needs while also making the best possible use of taxpayer money.”


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