A £50m flood alleviation scheme opening in Leeds is the first to use new state-of-the-art moveable weir technology, it has been announced today.
The project is one of the largest-ever in the UK and follows the devastating flooding which inundated parts of the city at the end of 2015.
More than 3,000 properties were flooded in the aftermath of Storm Eva as the River Aire reached unprecedented levels, prompting city council leader Judith Blake to lead criticism of a north-south divide in the Government’s response to the floods.
The Environment Agency said the first phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme would provide more than 3,000 homes, 500 businesses and 300 acres of development land with increased protection against flooding.
As well as 4.5km of embankments through the city centre, new moveable weirs have been installed on the river at Crown Point and further downstream at Knostrop, where a landmark new bridge has also been built.
The weir gates are supported by giant, inflatable neoprene bladders that can be lowered when high river flows are expected. It takes around two hours for the gates to lower and their design has meant flood defence wall heights could be kept to a minimum, protecting views of the waterfront.
The design also incorporates fish passes and otter ramps as weirs have previously been barriers to species such as salmon, which have been spotted in the Aire for the first time in 200 years.
Funding includes £35m from Government with £10m from Leeds City Council and partnership funding from Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.