movable weir

Leeds installs £50m state-of-the-art anti-flooding tech

Image credit: ap

State-of-the-art moveable weir technology has been installed as part of a £50m flood-alleviation scheme in Leeds.

Weirs are barriers placed across the horizontal width of a river that are used to alter the flow characteristics of the water which often results in a change in the vertical height of the river level.

As well as 4.5km of embankments through the city centre, the new moveable weirs have been installed on the river at Crown Point and further downstream at Knostrop.

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 Environment Agency (EA) said it was the first project to use the new moveable weirs and was one of the largest-ever in the UK following the devastating flooding which inundated parts of Leeds 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 EA said the first phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme will provide more than 3,000 homes, 500 businesses and 300 acres of development land with increased protection against flooding from the Aire and Hol Beck.

The design also incorporates fish passes and otter ramps, the agency said.

The EA said that weirs have previously been barriers to species such as salmon, which have recently been spotted in the Aire for the first time in 200 years.

“As could be seen by the devastation at Christmas 2015, providing increased flood protection in Leeds is essential in terms of reassuring our residents and businesses and this fantastic state-of-the-art scheme provides it for the city centre and downstream at Woodlesford,” Blake said.

“The clever use of the mechanical weirs is a brilliant idea and they have also brought about environmental benefits with the improved river quality bringing salmon and otters, while the new bridge looks stunning, offering great views of the river and beyond as part of the Trans-Pennine Trail.”

EA chair Emma Howard Boyd said: “We’re always looking for new ways that we can use technology to reduce flood risk so it’s exciting that this scheme is also a first for flood-risk management in the UK thanks to the use of the moveable weirs which can be lowered when river levels are high.”

Funding for the £50 million scheme has included £35 million of government money, alongside £10 million from Leeds City Council and partnership funding from Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and others, the EA said.

In August, an Austrian study found that preparations should be made worldwide for an increase in the number of floods due to the impact of climate change. 

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