Press release

Leeds river maintenance underway to reduce flood risk

Riverside works in Leeds City Centre will clear damaged trees

Workers on a floating platform
Operational teams working near the Dark Arches in Leeds

Essential maintenance work has started along the riverside in Leeds City Centre through the River Aire Care programme to help reduce flood risk ahead of the winter months.

Contractors are working over three weeks, to remove damaged and broken trees, which are mainly willows. The work to clear the riverbank on a stretch through Leeds City Centre will increase the conveyance of water and reduce any potential flood risk.

Regular footpath users on the stretch between the train station and Wellington Street will have seen contractors on pontoons in the river cutting back the trees and removing other large debris as part of a maintenance programme.

Martin Jones at the Environment Agency said:

This maintenance work and stewardship activity in Leeds is key to flood risk alleviation. By clearing fallen trees and debris from the watercourse and carrying out much needed maintenance, we are seeing real benefits.

Training flood wardens, regular updates and further flood alleviation methods all help to prepare for future, and help to raise awareness and build resilience amongst flood affected communities.

The initiative is part of a wider partnership programme between the Environment Agency, River Stewardship Company, Groundwork and Open Source Arts, which has been focusing on increasing flood awareness and resilience among Leeds’ flood affected communities.

Since May, Open Source Arts has delivered 14 volunteer days under the name ‘Team Kirkstall’, engaging over 150 people, working with the support of the River Stewardship Company. Volunteers have so far cleared over 10 tonnes of flood debris and waste from the River Aire, as well as making improvements to access pathways and safety features.

Phil Marken, of Open Source Arts, who has spearheaded the clean-ups in the area, said:

This outstanding response from the community clearly shows people are ready to take greater ownership of the wild areas they live beside, to manage the flood risk but also improve them as areas for recreation and wildlife. With support from partners like the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council we will continue these clean-ups in the new year - and we really want to continue the momentum which this impressive, community focused, stewardship movement has achieved.

Further volunteer clean-ups are being planned from Kirkstall Forge to Thwaite’s Mill.

If people would like to volunteer at one of the future clean-up events, more information and a programme of activities can be found at

Published 17 November 2016