Moveable weirs to form part of council’s alternative flood defences

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A DECISION to recommend a reduced scheme to stop the River Aire flooding in the near future was taken yesterday by Leeds councillors.

The proposals announced follow the shelving of the £180m scheme to provide flood defences to a one in 200-year standard last year.

That scheme, which would have provided defences between Newlay Bridge and Woodlesford, failed to attract sufficient government financial support.

A phased approach is now being proposed following further work by the Environment Agency, Leeds Council, British Waterways and other partners including Yorkshire Water, with the aim being to see improvements in place within two to three years.

Existing weirs at Knostrop and Crown Point would be removed and replaced with moveable alternatives while Knostrop Cut would be removed to widen the river by merging the canal and the River Aire.

These measures, together with other defences, could be the first phase of providing flood defences in the city. Subject to further surveys and design work, the aim is to have these elements in place by end of 2015.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy, said: “This is good news, bringing flood defences for the city centre a step closer. In recent years, the city centre has come close to flooding on a number of occasions. This scheme is therefore vitally important to the city.

“It was a great disappointment to us that the previous and more comprehensive scheme was not affordable. We hope these pragmatic proposals will be supported by government.