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Leeds flood scheme to go ahead

Words: Laura Edgar
Farnley Lane, Otley, flooded during Storm Dennis / Leeds City Council

Leeds City Council has granted planning permission for a scheme to protect Otley from flooding.

The application comprises a flood embankment running along the west of Billams Hills and vegetation management on the islands downstream of Otley weir.

Leeds City Council, the Environment Agency and engineering consultant WSP put forward the scheme after undertaking research and survey work, as well as consultation with local residents, businesses and landowners.

It is hoped that the project will reduce the likelihood of the River Wharfe flooding by 4 per cent (one in 25 years) chance of occurring in any given year. Such protection would have prevented the flooding caused on Boxing Day in 2015.

The risk of flooding currently stands at a 20 per cent chance of flooding, which is once in every five years. 

Alongside the planning permission, the Environment Agency has approved an outline business case to enable the next stages of the project to progress. This includes enabling works for the embankment, design and construction, which will be led by principal contractor BMMjv.

Funding for the £3.4 million scheme has been provided by central government, the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and Leeds City Council.

A statement from the Environment Agency and the city council emphasised that any tree removed as part of the work would be replaced by three trees, while a range of trees would be planted to enhance the biodiversity of the site, along with wildflower planting.

Mohammed Rafique, executive member for environment and active lifestyles, said: “In the wake of storms Ciara and Dennis, there has never been a more important time to deliver real and tangible measures that help build our resilience to future flooding events and reduce the risk to people in affected areas.”

John Woods flood risk officer with the Environment Agency added: “The approval of the Outline Business Case is an important step in delivering the Otley FAS. It says that the scheme is affordable, technically suitable and sustainable – essentially of all the options that were considered, this is the right one for Otley. It also formally releases the government’s funding for the scheme.”

Enabling works are set to begin this month, with construction expected to start in the summer.

Image credit | Leeds City Council