The scheme to protect Leeds city centre from the risk of flooding was today given the green light after government funding of £32.5million was confirmed.
The funding to provide flood protection along the River Aire was granted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) today following a successful bid from the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council.
Leeds City Council is contributing £10m towards the cost of the £50.5m scheme, with further funding to be raised from a potential business improvement district and other local funding sources.
The work, supported by the Canal & River Trust and other partners including Yorkshire Water, will see innovative measures introduced on the River Aire to control water levels to protect over 3,000 homes and around 500 businesses safeguarding over 18,000 jobs.
The first element of the scheme will see the existing weirs at Crown Point and further downstream at Knostrop removed and replaced with moveable weirs which can be used to reduce river levels and decrease the likelihood of flooding.
The new weirs received planning approval last month and work is expected to start before summer 2014. Further work will also be carried out to remove Knostrop Cut with the river being widened by merging it with the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.
Upon completion, the scheme will provide the city centre with protection from a 1 in 75-year flood. In addition, the design of the new defences will mean the formerly proposed high flood walls can be significantly reduced in height and length so maintaining the heritage and visual quality of the Leeds waterfront.
In Leeds city centre 100 properties flooded in 2000, while major flooding was only narrowly avoided in 2004, 2007 and 2008.
Leeds City Council executive member for the economy and development Councillor Richard Lewis said:
“We are very pleased to welcome this funding which means we can now get on and carry out the work to protect Leeds city centre from the risk of flooding
“Apart from providing protection and reassurance, the work will also create potential new jobs as part of the project. We thank all our partners who have helped support this scheme, but it is important to remember that areas outside the city centre also badly need flood defences installing so we will continue to look at ways they can be extended beyond the city centre.”
Flood risk manager at the Environment Agency Tony Andryszewski said:
“This year’s announcement for Flood Defence Grant in Aid funding is excellent news for communities in the Leeds area. The Environment Agency and Leeds City Council will now be able to move ahead with this important scheme.
“The government has provided additional funding for the Leeds scheme because it will protect key areas of business activity. Once the new flood defences are complete, they will provide extra confidence to the business sector, supporting local economic growth and the potential creation of new jobs."
Note to editors: A 1:75 flood risk refers to a one in 75 year Standard of Protection (SOP), which means that, on average, the city would only be expected to flood once in every 75 years, or twice in every 150 years
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