A leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake has made the following comment after meeting between a delegation of council leaders and Leeds MPs with Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey on the position regarding funding for the proposed Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme phase two.
The leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“We are very frustrated that we are approaching the third anniversary of Storm Eva and the people and businesses affected by those devastating floods are still waiting for a government decision. Liz Truss gave a firm commitment at the time, confirmed by the then Prime Minister, that Leeds would get the flood defences it needs and deserves.
Having successfully delivered a flood defence scheme for the South Bank, the council undertook to produce a detailed plan for the rest of the city centre and Kirkstall using the latest government policy around wider catchment areas.
We have done that and we have agreed to underwrite significant amounts of the scheme to demonstrate our commitment. Although it was helpful that the Minister today accepted that a one-in-seventy-five-year protection was not appropriate for Leeds, the most senior cross-party council and MPs delegation was sent away to do more work with Defra officials with no clear deadline set for further work.
“I will be writing to Thérèse Coffey tomorrow to suggest a further meeting within a month to agree that a one-in-two-hundred-year protection is deliverable, fundable and essential to protect the people of Leeds and safeguard the economic heart of the Northern Powerhouse. I will also be writing to Liz Truss who as Chief Secretary to the Treasury has the power to bridge the funding gap in this scheme in the forthcoming Budget and make good the commitment she made in early 2016.”
The impact of Storm Eva in Leeds at Christmas 2015 affected 3,355 properties in Leeds, of which 672 were commercial businesses. The direct cost to the city was an estimated £36.8million, with the cost to the wider city region being more than £500million.
The first phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme has seen formal flood defences installed along the River Aire for the first time. The £50million project began with works completed downstream in Woodlesford which proved effective during the Christmas 2015 flooding, before moving into the city centre with measures featuring the introduction of state-of-the-art mechanical weirs to control river levels.
Phase two of the scheme put forward by Leeds City Council after carrying out an extensive survey and modelling work after the 2015 floods, proposes a further £112millon investment in a range of measures along the River Aire including to its upper catchment to offer a one-in-200-year level of protection for Leeds against the threat of flooding.