Vote next week on Leeds flood defence plans

Proposals to investigate the potential creation of flood defences to protect Leeds against damage such as that caused by Storm Eva this winter are to be voted on by councillors.

Aerial picture over the Kirkstall Road area of Leeds, West Yorkshire, where flooding has occurred after the monumental amount of rain has caused the river Aire to burst its banks.

At the meeting of the executive board at Civic Hall on Wednesday April 20, senior councillors will be asked to give the green light to a feasibility study to extend the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme on the River Aire upstream from the city centre, which would offer future protection to Kirkstall and surrounding areas that were badly hit by the impact of Storm Eva at Christmas.

The approval would grant the use of £3million of Environment Agency funding for Leeds to undertake evaluation work, including ecological surveys and river modelling, to produce designs and a feasibility study on a range of measures to offer protection against future flooding.

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However residents will still have to wait for sometime for new defences, with a business case for the final plan not likely to go before the Government for consideration by the end of 2017.

If the case is approved work would then start on the new defences before the end of 2018 and be completed by the end of 2021.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said: “We have already seen businesses hit by the impact of Storm Eva either decide to move elsewhere or not be able to continue which is very sad and has resulted in job losses and damage to our local economy. So we need a firm commitment from the government that there will be no repeat of 2011 when the full scheme for Leeds put forward by the Environment Agency was rejected.

“Recent stories in the media about the south east getting £167 funding per head, compared to £97 per head for Yorkshire, only goes to demonstrate the unequal distribution of resources in flood defence spending.”

The impact of Storm Eva which hit on Boxing Day 2015 in Leeds resulted in damage to 2,683 residential buildings and 672 commercial properties, as well as seven others such as churches and sports clubs.