Plans for a vital £100M flood defence scheme for Leeds city centre were due to go out to public consultation tomorrow.
The city currently has no formal flood defences, yet the Environment Agency estimates that over 3,000 properties are at risk and that a major flood of the river Aire will cause £500M of damage. “Leeds is a major city at risk of flooding,” said Environment Agency head of flood risk strategy David Rooke. “In summer 2007 we were literally centimetres away from a major inundation of the city centre.”
Details of plans are being kept under wraps until the consultation begins. But it is expected that defences will take the form of flood walls up to 4m high. “What is planned is mostly walls. The team looked at a range of options, but walls are the most cost effective solution,” said Rooke, adding that funding is secured and work is due to start within two years.
Leeds is a major city at risk of flooding
The Environment Agency has developed the plans with a steering group of representatives from Leeds City Council, regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, British Waterways and Yorkshire Water.
The Agency’s favoured option of flood defences – 19km of raised embankments, terraces, walls and reinforcement of existing buildings – will give the city protection from a 1:200 year fl ood event. Leeds City Council had campaigned for a more sophisticated and expensive scheme that would have involved creating upstream flood water storage areas. This would have eliminated the need for very high barriers on the city centre waterfront. But this was ruled out as too expensive.