The first phase of the award-winning Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, which uses state-of-the-art flood defence engineering techniques, is one of the largest river flood alleviation schemes in the UK.
The Leeds City Council/Environment Agency 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 on Water Lane.
More than 22,000 jobs will be safeguarded over the next 10 years due to the increased level of protection.
The scheme is made up of state-of-the-art mechanical weirs, the merging of the river and canal and flood walls along with embankments stretching 4.5km through the city centre.
Work on the River Aire is almost complete with the Holbeck scheme continuing into Autumn.
The scheme was built with a £35m Government grant along with £10m from Leeds City Council and partnership funding from Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and others.
Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake and Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd officially opened the flood alleviation scheme in Leeds city centre today (Weds Oct 4).
Coun Blake, said: “We are delighted to see this much-needed first phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme opened.
“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.
“The clever use of the mechanical weirs is a brilliant idea, and they have also brought about environmental benefits with the improved river quality bringing salmon and otters.”
Emma Howard Boyd said: “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 Ministrer Therese Coffey said she is “delighted” that thousands more people living and working in Leeds will be better protected from flooding as a result of the £50m scheme.
Ms Coffey added: “Our commitment to strengthening flood defences across Yorkshire doesn’t stop here – we are investing £430 million over six years up until 2021 to better protect the region using the best technology and engineering available.”