River Aire flood defences to be tested

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The Environment Agency is to test part of the Aire flood defences at Crown Point tomorrow (Thursday).

The Environment Agency is to test part of the Aire flood defences at Crown Point tomorrow (Thursday).

A virtual simulation wll be carried out at the moveable weir site, which is part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, to ensure it is ready for winter water levels.

The pioneering weir was installed as part of Phase One of the project, and a similar one will be built at Knostrop Cut.

Earlier this year, half of the river was blocked so that 1,500 tonnes of rock could be dropped into the channel, providing a platform for heavy plant vehicles to create a dry working space for the removal of the old weir.

Because the normal width of the river has had to be reduced during the construction period, a penstock has been installed in the fish pass beside the weir. This acts as a gate to manage water levels and to reduce flood risk during the building phase. When raised, upstream river levels can be lowered when high flows are expected.

Jonathan Moxon, catchment director for the Upper Aire at the Environment Agency, said:

“We are doing an exercise with Leeds City Council to ensure the procedures that we have jointly agreed to operate the penstock run smoothly. The council’s contractors, BAM Nuttall, will be working with Environment Agency staff to respond to a simulated flood event in Leeds.

“A vital part of increasing our resilience to flooding is ensuring we are prepared to respond to any flooding this coming winter. The exercise we’re carrying out today will test our incident planning and response.”

Further downstream, work to replace Knostrop Weir is well underway with the third weir gate now being installed. Once complete, the moveable weirs at Crown Point and Knostrop will be capable of lowering river levels during flood conditions.

Elsewhere, the majority of the flood walls on the River Aire are now complete. This includes glazed flood panels in locations such as the former KPMG building and Victoria Quays. Work to install flood defences along Hol Beck has now started.