Words: Richard Beecham, local democracy reporter
The risk of flooding is still a “key threat” to Leeds, and tens of millions of pounds worth of flood defence works will still be needed over the next five years.
That’s according to a report set to go before Leeds City Council chiefs this week, which identifies Otley in particular as an area “at high risk of flooding”.
The document written by council officers comes just a year before phase one of the flood alleviation scheme along the River Aire is set to finish. This would offer a “one in 100 year” cover against flooding, meaning there would be a one per cent chance of floods taking place in a given year.
The council is now working on phase two, which it hopes will provide a “one in 200 year” – or 0.5 per cent – cover against floods.
Phase two of the main flood alleviation scheme is expected to cost around £112m, and centres on the stretch of river between Leeds Station, along the Kirkstall Valley and up to Apperley Bridge. The phase is split into two parts – with step one focussing on placing raised flood walls on an eight kilometre stretch out of Leeds city centre.
Step two is a flood storage area near Calverley, as well as flood walls in Apperley Bridge. Previous papers had said the Calverley site would comprise a 101-acre flood storage reservoir on a site bordering with Horsforth and Rawdon.
The report also outlined more localised schemes, on which £24m of public money would be spent in the coming years.
These included a £4.3m scheme built in Otley, following the flooding of dozens of houses in the town back in 2015. The new scheme there has, the council says, reduced the chance of flooding from 20 per cent to four per cent, with a new embankment, the diversion of a water course and improved conveyance downstream.
The report added: “Otley is at high risk of flooding. Parts of Otley flooded in December 2015 when the River Wharfe burst its banks. There have also been many times where the river has burst its banks and properties have come close to flooding.”
The report stated: “Flood risk is a key threat to the wellbeing of the residents across Leeds and in order to ensure action is taken it is important that council continues a proactive approach to mitigating the impact of flooding.
“Moreover, throughout 2022 and looking to the future the broader focus of climate resilience and adaptation must align very closely with flood risk.”
It added that the current six-year programme will deliver an extra 22 schemes to reduce the risk of flooding by investing £24m.
Leeds City Council’s Infrastructure scrutiny board will discuss the plans on Thursday, February 17.