(News release Leeds City Council:) Leeds, 8 March 2023 - Work has started to plant thousands of trees at the site of a new flood storage area – a vital part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme Phase 2 (FAS2).
On 21 February, a group of volunteers planted the first 1,000 trees in the area surrounding the Leeds FAS2 flood storage area between the Horsforth Vale housing development and Cragg Wood in Leeds. The newly planted whips were grown from seed at Leeds City Council’s plant nursery, The Arium, and are part of the scheme’s commitment to the environment and water quality. They will provide habitat for local wildlife and capture carbon to help combat the climate emergency. The trees also form part of the commitment from the Leeds FAS2 scheme to replace any necessary tree removals on a three to one ratio.
The volunteers from the Leeds FAS2 team were joined by members of Leeds City Council, and staff members from SFS - one of the hundreds of businesses who will be protected from flooding by the Leeds FAS2 scheme. The SFS Leeds site is situated within the Leeds FAS2 construction area, with a sheet piled flood defence wall with access ramp successfully installed in the summer of 2022. Alongside providing several volunteers to plant trees on the day, they also made a donation towards the 1,000 whips.
Leeds FAS2 is due to complete in winter 2023. It is a catchment-wide scheme, using a combination of engineered and natural methods to protect 1,048 homes, 474 businesses and key infrastructure along a 14km stretch from Leeds City Station to Apperley Bridge. Once complete, the scheme will reduce the risk of flooding to a 0.5% chance of occurring in any given year – this means protection against a one-in-200-year flooding event – similar to storm Eva in 2015. This level of protection also includes an allowance for climate change. The area in Leeds City Centre currently protected by Leeds FAS1 will also have its level of protection upgraded to the same standard.
Leeds City Council executive member for infrastructure and climate, Councillor Helen Hayden, plants a tree at the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme flood storage area.
Leeds City Council executive member for infrastructure and climate, Councillor Helen Hayden said: ‘The Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme is vital for Leeds. When it is finished it will increase flood resilience for people who live, work, or travel through Leeds to an exceptional level. It’s brilliant to see such a large scale of tree planting as part of the scheme – it is a real example of the council’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency. Once all of the trees here have established, we will have created an entire woodland area here in West Leeds – one that will provide habitat to animals and help to clean our air. It’s fantastic to see volunteers here today from SFS, it is indicative of the work that has been done to ensure that we have built strong relationships with the businesses, residents and communities who have been impacted by the construction of the scheme since 2019. I’d like to extend our thanks to SFS, and all of the other volunteers from across the project team.’
BAM Nuttall’s Project Manager for Leeds FAS2, Andy Taylor said: ‘It’s great to see the partnership with Leeds City Council and local businesses such as SFS come together to plant 1000 trees in the Calverley area. The Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme is already using natural flood management techniques on the project, which aims to reduce the flood risk to the Leeds area. Well done to all the teams involved!’
Jenny Longley, Area Flood and Coastal Risk Manager at the Environment Agency, said: ‘With the country facing a national and global climate emergency, planting more trees will not only help us restore our natural environment, but also protects us against increasing flood risks along the river Aire. Natural flood management techniques used in the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme will make the city more resilient to climate change and help reach our net zero goals. They also enhance biodiversity and provide wider benefits for local wildlife, which makes the collaborative work we’re doing so important for surrounding communities.’
Managing Director Member of Division Management at SFS, David Wigglesworth said: ‘As a business that has been employing local people here in Leeds for over 130 years, we felt first-hand the effects of the flooding back in 2015 and the impact it has on an organisation and its employees. Flooding is a consistent problem throughout the UK and one that can cause significant financial damage and personal loss. These new flood defences will help to secure the future of our business and workforce while providing a legacy for future generations. At SFS it is important that we play our part, and we are delighted to be working in collaboration with BAM and Leeds City Council to replant trees in the surrounding area. These new trees will act as part of the Water Framework Directive requirements and will secure habitat for local wildlife and capture carbon.’
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