Work starts on flood defence scheme

Work has begun on a major multi-million pound flood defence scheme in Leeds, which will protect thousands of homes and businesses and bring about economic benefits in the city.

Andy Judson from BMM and Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leeds City Council Leader.
Andy Judson from BMM and Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leeds City Council Leader.

The £45million Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, which is one of the largest river flood defence schemes in the country, will see major construction work along the River Aire in the city centre and Holbeck extending 4.3km between Leeds train station and Thwaite Mills.

The scheme includes the installation of innovative moveable weirs at Crown Point and at Knostrop which will be the first of their kind to be used for flood defence in the UK.

An island at Knostrop Cut which separates the river from the canal will also be removed to allow the river and canal to merge. This will create additional flood storage and assist the flow of water out of the city centre during flood conditions. Low level flood defences and landscaping in the city centre will also be constructed.

By Spring 2017, once completed, the defences will provide the city centre and over 3,000 homes and 500 businesses with protection against flood events from the River Aire and the Hol Beck. It will also protect 300 acres of development land and open up key regeneration opportunities in the South Bank area, unlocking business growth. The scheme will also help safeguard 22,000 jobs over the next 10 years and create 150 jobs and apprenticeships to work on the project.

Last year, the initial work on scheme saw defences constructed at Woodlesford providing residents with protection against a one in 200 year flood event from the River Aire.

Now, this next stage of phase one will see the replacement of the existing fixed weirs with moveable weirs, which consist of a row of steel gate panels supported on their downstream side by inflatable air bladders that can be lowered in flood conditions to reduce river levels and the threat of river flooding.

Leeds City Council executive member for transport and the economy, Councillor Richard Lewis said:

“This scheme is crucial for the city as it has come very close to serious flooding on numerous occasions in recent years. Not only will these defence measures protect peoples’ homes and businesses but also protect key employment sites, safeguard jobs and support regeneration, all of which is central to building a stronger, more resilient economy.

“It will also give much-needed protection to key transport infrastructure and access routes that we rely on to keep the city moving.

“By using cutting edge flood defence technology and working with industry experts, we can provide sound flood defence for the city that is good value for money as well as good quality, as we have to weigh the cost of the scheme against the potential costs that would be caused by flooding to the city centre.”

Adrian Gill, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said:

“It is great news for people and businesses in Leeds that this important scheme is progressing into the construction phase. Flooding can cause widespread disruption and have a devastating impact on people’s lives. Once this scheme is completed thousands of homes and businesses will be better protected.”

The Leeds Flood Alleviation scheme is being funded by Leeds City Council, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Environment Agency and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BiS).

The project is being delivered by Leeds City Council working closely with a project team including construction contractor BMM (a joint venture between BAM Nuttall and Mott MacDonald), the Environment Agency, Arup and other organisations.

Watch a video ‘fly though’ animation of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme which takes you through the flood defences along length of the scheme, on the River Aire