PHOTO: Lizzie Coombes/@bettylawless

Kirkstall flood defences: Council to develop proposals

12 April 2016

Senior councillors in Leeds are set to approve developing proposals for additional flood defences to help protect Kirkstall.

The council’s executive board will vote next Wednesday to give the green light to a feasibility study to extend the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme on the River Aire upstream from the city centre.

The measures would offer future protection to Kirkstall and surrounding areas that were badly hit by the impact of Storm Eva at Christmas.

Kirkstall floods

The study will look at

  • Possible creation of new formal flood defence measures as well as  landscape management and utilising natural water storage areas upstream
  • Examine the possible purchase of land to build new flood defences on, or work with third parties to incorporate flood defence solutions
  • The need to create a working group of stakeholders from across the River Aire catchment area to consider and help develop the proposals
  • The need for any works to be integrated with the regeneration strategy being prepared to make the Kirkstall Road corridor more resilient to flooding

The study will be funded by £3 million provided by the Environment Agency.

A business case for the final plan would be prepared and presented to the government for consideration by the end of 2017.

If the case is approved work would then start on the new defences before the end of 2018 and be completed by the end of 2021.

Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake, said:

“We are very keen to work with the Environment Agency and all other partners to get this study carried out and then the works implemented as quickly as possible – ideally much sooner than 2021 as that is too far off to give any meaningful reassurance to our residents and businesses.

“We have already seen businesses hit by the impact of Storm Eva either decide to move elsewhere or not be able to continue which is very sad and has resulted in job losses and damage to our local economy. So we need a firm commitment from the government that there will be no repeat of 2011 when the full scheme for Leeds put forward by the Environment Agency was rejected.”

There are currently no formal flood defences along the River Aire upstream of the city centre, where phase one of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme is under way.

The report to be considered by councillors next Wednesday adds:

“… in Kirkstall alone businesses employing around 2,000 people were significantly affected.

“Should the recent event have occurred outside the festive holiday period it is estimated that approximately 27,000 people would have been isolated in the city centre without road or rail exit to the west.”

You can read the report in full here.

The £45m project has already seen works completed downstream in Woodlesford, and the city centre element which features the introduction of state-of-the-art mechanical weirs on the river is on schedule to be completed by March 2017.



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