New consultation dates on plans for flood defences in the Kirkstall Valley have been announced, following concerns by local community groups.
As reported by The Dispatch, nine community organisations from Kirkstall and Burley objected to the council’s proposals for flood defences, three years after the River Aire broke its banks and flooded the area on Boxing Day 2015.
They acknowledged the importance of installing new flood defences, but argued they had had insufficient time to respond to the proposals and criticised the lack of consultation by the council.
There have also been concerns about the impact on the environment and tree felling.
Council chiefs have since agreed to continue to allow comments on the planning application up until the application is decided in March – and today announced two new consultation events with residents, community groups and landowners.
They are at Milford Sports Club, Beecroft Street, LS5 3AS, between 2pm and 8pm on Wednesday 13 February and Tuesday 26 February.
All are welcome to attend to find out more and discuss the plans with officers from Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency.
The Dispatch yesterday featured environmental concerns that the current flood defence proposals would impact plans for a new community farm in the Kirkstall Valley, as well as concerns that the allotments at Burley Mills would be affected.
Acknowledging local concerns – but also the need for speedy decisions – Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis (Lab, Pudsey) said:
“These plans are an imaginative, ambitious and innovative solution to arguably the biggest threat we continue to face in Leeds, that of a repeat of the horrendous flooding of Christmas 2015. Until we have the best possible level of protection in place we will not stop pushing to deliver the reassurance our city, communities and businesses deserve as quickly as we can.
“Some concerns have been raised about the potential impact of some of the work we want to carry out, but we are committed to letting nature do the job for us as much as possible and looking to not only limit the impact on local environments but where we can to enhance them for everyone to be able to enjoy.
“This is a pragmatic two-step solution to get us to where we all want to be – as protected as we possibly can be in Leeds against the increasing threat of flooding.”
Exec board to endorse proposals next week
The moves come as members of the council’s decision-making executive board are being asked to next Wednesday formally endorse a two-step plan which aims to provide Leeds with a one-in-200-year level of protection against the threat of flooding from the River Aire following the Boxing Day 2015 floods.
With government funding of £65m confirmed, Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency are keen for works to begin this summer on the first step of the plan to offer an initial one-in-100-year level of protection.
This will then be upgraded to the full one-in-200-year level with a further element of work after the remainder of the funding to reach the full cost of £112.1million has been secured.
A key element of the plan is to use Natural Flood Management (NFM) measures alongside landscaping and engineering works to minimise the threat of potential flooding. This includes land management and the planting of hundreds of thousands of trees along the river catchment, on a scale comparable with any such tree planting scheme in Europe.
Advanced works have also been carried out with a new flood wall installed to protect businesses in Stourton, the removal of a platform underneath Gotts Bridge which could be blocked by debris, and river stewardship to clear debris and invasive species to improve water flow.
The council has also worked with Yorkshire Water to install a valve to control water levels around Kirkstall Bridge retail park, as well as offering advice to businesses on flood protection and improving warning messages when there is a risk of a possible flood event.
Plans include the use of Natural Flood Management alongside defences in the form of embankments and walls, together with measures to prevent the erosion of the banks of the river.
To offer protection to Kirkstall and the surrounding area, river control measures will be installed to reduce the risk of flooding impacting on the historic Kirkstall Abbey, while part of the adjoining Kirkstall Meadows will become a wetland habitat for kingfishers, otters and fish together with significant tree planting.
Along Kirkstall Road and Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve, landscaping and access improvement works are proposed including a new cycleway, footpath and two new footbridges.
Further downstream at Armley Mills, the phase two works would see two new floodgates installed to control the water flow and protect the Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills.
In all aspects of these works, all efforts would be made to prevent or limit any impact on the local environment.
Second phase in Calverley
The second part of phase two which will be able to proceed only when further funding has been secured is the planned flood storage area at Calverley.
Making use of an existing floodplain, the plan is to increase the water retaining capacity of the area and to widen the river to allow for two new moveable weirs to be installed to control the flow of water. These would work in the same way as those already in operation at Crown Point and Knostrop which are the key features of phase one of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.
Burley Community Association was due to debate the scheme at its regular meeting tonight.
To see the report to be considered by the executive board go to agenda item 22.