BMMjv’s contract, being managed by Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency, will see linear defences provided along an 8km stretch of the River Aire upstream of Leeds Station. It will focus on three key areas – Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, Kirkstall Abbey and Kirkstall Meadows.
At Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, the defence works include new protective walls, a new higher bridge to improve water flow and two new control structures on the goit which can close when the river levels become too high.
A new structure will be built at Kirkstall Abbey in front of Kirkabbey Sluice Gates which will limit the amount of water during high river levels going down the goit channel. The structure will also be a walkway that could open up new views.
The proposal at Kirkstall Meadows is to transform 2.4 hectares into a wetland habitat and also feature kingfisher banks, otter holts and wetland scrapes for fish. A new flood embankment will reduce flood risk to the adjacent railway line.
Planning approval was granted for these works earlier this month.
Talks are continuing over securing the additional funding needed to complete a second stage of the upstream phase scheme, set to cost £112.1m. This would see the creation of a flood storage area near Calverley, with moveable weir technology used to allow water to be stored and then be released slowly back into the river in a controlled way.
A £50m first phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, featuring moveable weir technology to protect the city centre and downstream to Woodlesford, was completed in 2017.
Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “This is a hugely important milestone for Leeds, as it commits us to getting this vital work done and hopefully underlines our commitment to doing everything to can to make our residents and businesses safe from the risk of flooding as soon as possible.
“We look forward to seeing work starting later this year, and we continue to explore every option in order to get the whole scheme completed in full as that is absolutely essential for the future of our city and all the communities who remain vulnerable to the risk of flooding.”
Environment Agency flood risk manager Adrian Gill said: “I’m really pleased that our joint project team has achieved this milestone. We are now able to begin work on the ground at pace making best use of the funds we have available.
“Our ambition is still to complete both steps of this second phase of the scheme. The first step will provide much better protection from the River Aire upstream of Leeds station through the Kirkstall area and out to Newlay.
“We are looking forward to this next stage of delivery and being able to share the detailed design of the proposed scheme with the residents, businesses and the wider community.”
BAM Nuttall chief executive Steve Fox said: “Our teams at BAM Nuttall and Mott MacDonald are proud to be awarded the contract for the second phase of Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, building on our strong partnership with Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency.
“We’re looking forward to our continued collaboration, delivering our common goals to reduce carbon and protect residents and businesses in Leeds from flooding, as we work together to create sustainable environments for people and wildlife.”
Once the further funding has been secured and planning approval received for it, step two of the two-step approach would see the creation of a flood storage area near Calverley, with moveable weir technology used to allow water to be stored and then be released slowly back into the river in a controlled way.