A £50 million flood alleviation scheme has opened in Leeds, using moveable weir technology – a first for flood risk reduction in the UK.
Led by Leeds City Council in partnership with the Environment Agency, the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme will provide more than 3,000 homes, 500 businesses and 300 acres of development land with increased protection against flooding from the River Aire and Hol Beck.
It comprises three main elements: mechanical weirs, the merging of the river and canal and flood walls and embankments stretching 4.5km through the city centre.
Funding for the project has included £35 million of government Grant in Aid funding alongside £10 million of local funding from Leeds City Council and partnership funding from Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and others.
Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake CBE said: “As could be seen by the devastation at Christmas 2015, providing increased flood protection in Leeds is essential in terms of reassuring our residents and businesses, and this fantastic state-of-the-art scheme provides it for the city centre and downstream at Woodlesford.”
Chair of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd said: “This ground-breaking scheme will not only benefit hundreds of homes and businesses in the city but it will also safeguard 22,000 jobs over the next ten years due to the increased level of protection it provides.
“We’re always looking for new ways that we can use technology to reduce flood risk so it’s exciting that this scheme is also a first for flood risk management in the UK thanks to the use of the moveable weirs which can be lowered when river levels are high.”
Floods minister Thérèse Coffey said: “No one can forget the devastating flooding residents and businesses in Leeds faced nearly two years ago. We know how distressing flooding is for all those affected and I’m delighted that through this new state-of-the art £50 million scheme thousands more people living and working in Leeds will be better protected.”
The weirs have been installed at Crown Point in the city centre and further downstream at Knostrop, where a new locally manufactured bridge has been installed across the weir connecting the diverted Trans Pennine Trail with the north bank of the river.
Weighing approximately 150 tonnes and spanning approximately 70 metres, the bridge has been designed by Knight Architects, ARUP and BMMjv, a joint venture between BAM Nuttall and Mott MacDonald.