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Thousands of trees planted to reduce flood risk in West Leeds

5,000 trees have been planted at the Leeds Brownlee Triathlon Centre as part of a Natural Flood Management Programme.

The scheme aims to reduce flood risk to 1,048 homes, 474 businesses and key infrastructure along a 14km stretch of the River Aire upstream of Leeds train station.

The project is a collaboration between the Environment Agency, Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds and the River Stewardship Company and aims to store and slow the flow of flood water after heavy rain, create new habitats and store carbon, making Leeds more resilient to climate change.

Students from the University of Leeds will study the effects the trees have on the depth and speed of flood water to inform similar projects in the future.

Fiona Sugden, The Environment Agency’s Natural Flood Project Manager for Leeds, said:

“This tree planting programme is fantastic news for Leeds and is being replicated across the River Aire catchment as part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme’s Natural Flood Management Programme.

“The creation of a woodland area at the Brownlee Triathlon Centre will have multiple benefits for people and wildlife – reducing flood risk downstream, benefitting the environment by creating new woodland habitat, enhancing biodiversity, helping mitigate climate change and providing valuable data to help us understand how well natural flood techniques perform.

“The Triathlon Centre is a real asset for students and the local community, and we hope that visitors will also be able to learn about how effective natural flood management can be.”

The trees were planted by the River Stewardship Company on the Bodington Playing Fields site between February and March 2021, and were initially grown at The Arium Nursery in Leeds.

The aim is to repeat the floods of 2015 when the River Aire broke its banks in a number of places in West Leeds, including Kirkstall and Burley.

Last week, councillors approved a new 100-acre reservoir near Calverley as part of the latest steps to prevent future flooding in the city. The multi-million pound Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme (LeedsFAS) is providing a package of flood defences along the banks of the Aire.

For more information about the LeedsFAS visit


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