Councillor warns Wortley flooding problems may not have a ‘silver bullet’

Wortley Beck broke its banks, leading to the closure of the Ring Road near Matalan. Photo: Daniel Riley

‘There may not be a silver bullet’ to solve the problems with flooding in Wortley, a councillor has admitted.

Wortley Beck again flooded near its junction with Branch Road, near Matalan, which lead to the close of the Ring Road and diversion of public transport for much of yesterday (Sunday). The road re-opened to traffic this morning.

Fez Mazhar and Josh Longford, from Doctor Drainage, again donated free sandbags and their time to help stop a handful of homes in the area from flooding, repeating the selfless acts they also carried out during flooding last February.

Ann blackburn farnley and wortley
Concern: Cllr Ann Blackburn

Farnley & Wortley councillor Ann Blackburn today said Leeds council and Environment Agency had been looking at a scheme to ‘re-model’ the beck further upstream to reduce the risk of flooding.

But the Green Party councillor said any scheme would take a long-term view and there would be no ‘waving a magic wand’ to tackle problems with flooding.

“We are aware of the problems in Wortley,” the Green Party councillor said. “I have to say I have seen it worse than it was yesterday when it’s been all the way up the Ring Road from Ringways to Sunnybank Mills.

“I know the council has been looking to see what they can do to solve the issues in the long term, but there are no guarantees when it rains like it did and with the affect of climate change that it will work.

“They’re hoping to put a bid in for government money, but there’s no silver bullet to solve this problem.”

There have been recent schemes to plant more trees around the Post Hill area to reduce the amount water entering the beck. And last year, Cllr David Blackburn (Green, Farnley & Wortley) warned floods will become “inevitable” if developers are not more careful about where they build.

“Incidents like this are inevitable with climate change, because there is more rainfall,” Cllr David Blackburn said at the time. “But we are building on more and more land and it is causing more water run-off. It’s inevitable if we carry on as we are – we are going to get more situations like this.

“We can invest in schemes to stop flooding, but some of it is taking place in a catchment area where we are allowing building and the taking away of trees.

“We need to be more careful about where we are building, and we need to take the wider cause into consideration.”

WLD understands that Farnley Balancing Reservoir, which was built built in 1973 in a bid to prevent flooding in the Wortley Beck area, did not overtop yesterday and that water passed through the normal overflow system to the downstream watercourse as originally designed. The reservoir is maintained by Yorkshire Water.


  1. “WLD understands that Farnley Balancing Reservoir, which was built built in 1973 in a bid to prevent flooding in the Wortley Beck area, did not overtop yesterday and that water passed through the overflow system to the downstream watercourse as originally designed.”

    Surely it was not designed to be half filled with mud and silt, as it appears to be, so how can it be doing what it was designed for?

    • Hi Carl, we’re told by Yorkshire Water engineers (who maintain the reservoir) that water is designed to go through the normal overflow points in the wall at the downstream end of the reservoir. These points regulate the amount of water which goes through – they say flooding would only be the result of the reservoir failing if the water went over the top of the wall and breached it.

      • Thanks, but I don’t understand their argument. If we have a bath and run the tap, it shouldn’t overtop the bath as there is an overflow for the water to escape through. But if we fill half the bath with mud, then clearly its capacity to hold water is significantly reduced and it will fill up quicker and the water will escape through the overflow when much less water has been poured in. Doesn’t the same go for the reservoir?

        The problem, as I see it, is not that the rainwater goes over the top of the walls of the reservoir, but that the reservoir doesn’t hold the amount of water it was intended to. Therefore it overflows more readily and so more water goes downstream, flooding Wortley.

  2. Totally agree with Carl. The ducks can almost walk across the reservoir from island to island. Do the maths. Lake half full of mud snd silt = half capacity.

  3. I note that Wortley Beck or Hol Beck is in fact nothing less than a parallel arm of the Aire as it intersects with the Aire both at both Bingley and Leeds Dark Arches, so I suggest that the level is related closely to the level of the Aire irrespective of runoff.


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