Bottom up Adaptation Strategies for a Sustainable Europe

Flood Alleviation Scheme (Leeds, United Kingdom)

The Climate Challenge

The city of Leeds, UK is located in the floodplain of the River Aire. The case study area includes around 320,000 households, with about 3,000 residential properties and 500 businesses as well as key municipal infrastructure at some level of flood risk. The area subject to flood risk is predicted to increase due to climate change, which can increase flood damages/disruptions and decrease the desirability of commercial land uses and investments. Indeed flood risk is a significant deterrent to the regeneration of parts of the city and extensive brownfield plots of formerly-developed industrial land. These areas have been identified as key strategic locations for job creation of regional and potentially national significance; thus, flood risk is currently generating high economic damages in the area and is a deterrent to sustainable economic development in the future.


The Adaptation Response

This case studies the economics of three adaptation measures, two hypothetical and one currently being implemented. The hypothetical measures are Ecosystem-based approaches (EBA) including green-blue infrastructure in the urban area and woodland panting in the upstream of the Aire catchment. The currently implemented measure refers to the initial phase of the (grey infrastructure) Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) extending downstream from Leeds city centre on the River Aire. The scheme aims to raise defences, replace two weirs and re-grading/ merging the River Aire with the Knostrop Cut basin to maximise the possible flood reduction. The proposed works at the weirs will furthermore incorporate fish passes to improve the ecological potential of the River Aire and help it achieve Good Ecological Potential as per the Water Framework Directive requirements for 2027.


The People and Institutions Involved

Leeds City Council developed the FAS proposal in close partnership with project partners such as the Environment Agency, the Canal and River Trust and Yorkshire Water Services Limited. Local stakeholder groups that have been closely involved with the process include the Waterfront Association, the Planning and Policy Group, the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and Leeds Civic Trust (Aire Action Partnership Groups). Individual members of the public have also been engaged by holding public meetings and drop-in events.


The Outcome of Action

The main construction works for the FAS began in January 2015, and the anticipated project end date is May 2017.



Richard Dennis, Principal Engineer, FAS, Engineering Projects, Leeds City Council,

+44 (0) 113 24 75377


Relevant Links


Full Report

The full report of this case study can be read here.


Photo © Fotolia / pics