Working together for a more resilient Aire

We’re working with partners to unlock private finance, to help improve flood resilience in the river Aire and bring a range of benefits to the region. 

We’re working with partners to unlock private finance, to help improve flood resilience in the river Aire and bring a range of benefits to the region.

Working in alignment with the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme (Leeds FAS) and alongside key partners including, Leeds City Council, the Environment Agency, Nature Finance and Aire Rivers Trust, The Rivers Trust led ARC project will be installing and maintaining various Nature Based Solutions (NbS), including Natural Flood Management, to help reduce the risk of flooding and the damage caused from severe weather events in the river Aire and its tributaries across the region.

Helping communities and businesses become more resilient against climate change.

We are already seeing the effects of climate change across Yorkshire. Records have been broken for hottest days, coldest days, and highest rainfall in the last 10 years. Hard work is underway across the region to achieve net zero emissions, and to mitigate against the long-term impact of climate change. Just as important, is the work to increase our resilience to the changes that are already happening now and in the near future.

“Building increasingly taller flood walls is not a sustainable solution to flooding, defences need to be supplemented by nature-based solutions if we are to improve flood resilience in the longer-term.”

Rob Horsley
Project manager

How will we secure sustainable investment in nature-based solutions?

The Aire Resilience Company, referred to as ARC will be created through this partnership project. The partnership aims to unlock private finance to invest in flood resilience and the wider benefits of natural flood management techniques across the region.

Currently in its early stages, the pioneering project plans to secure initial finance from green investors. This investment would be used to enhance existing, or deliver new, natural flood management (NFM) techniques with local landowners throughout the River Aire Catchment.

This would generate a range of environmental benefits:

  • Flood Resilience Enhancement
  • Carbon Capture
  • Tree Planting
  • Biodiversity
  • Improved Water Quality

These benefits would then be available to a range of organisations with an interest in the region to purchase. The funds generated from these sales would pay back the original investment and ensure that the measures are maintained over the coming decades.

The relationship with Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme (Leeds FAS)

The delivery through ARC will ensure that the objectives for phase 2 of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme (Leeds FAS), raising the overall level of protection provided to respond to a 1 in 200-year flood event.

ARC can do this as a significant element of the Leeds FAS project is a catchment-wide Natural Flood Management (NFM) scheme, running from Leeds all the way up to the source of the River Aire in Malham.

To date the Leeds FAS NFM project has delivered significant amounts of tree and hedgerow planting, leaky dams and soil aeration across the Aire catchment since 2019. This will have a huge impact on the effectiveness of the Leeds FAS over time – but there is more work to be done to reach our flood reduction targets. Work is also needed to maintain these new interventions over the coming decades, to make sure that they’re working as they should for when we need them most. ARC will deliver the necessary NFM to ensure that these flood reduction targets are met and will draw in the finance to ensure they can be maintained and monitored to meet the need over the coming decades.

Where will Natural Flood Management take place?

For NFM to be effective, it must slow the flow of water entering the river. That means targeting interventions from as far upstream as possible, right to its source in Malham, and across its many tributaries. This catchment-wide approach is natural flood management at an unprecedented scale in the UK.

Who will be involved?

We will be working with the following stakeholders:

Landowners are the bedrock of this project. We are developing an offer for landowners to be a part of the scheme, which will protect the region from flooding, but also provide direct benefits to the landowner. Increasing flood resilience throughout the catchment could increase the amount of useable farmland, reduce costs through improving soil health, and raise funds through the re-purposing of unused land for tree planting. We want to work alongside landowners throughout the catchment, to create a system for delivering natural flood management that works for everyone.

The purpose of this scheme is to deliver natural flood management to meet our flood risk reduction targets. To do this, the scheme requires up-front investment for the delivery phase. The full business plan for the project is currently in development.

Businesses based within the Aire catchment could directly benefit from increased flood resilience, their offices, infrastructure, or supply lines may be within the affected area, or their employees could have their homes or communities flooded. Many businesses recognise the impacts of climate change and have green initiatives to help make their contribution, however often these schemes rely on programmes based around the globe. The credits created by the Aire Resilience Company would contribute towards these initiatives, with the knowledge that the benefits are being felt right here in Leeds.

Get in touch

If you are interested to find out more about the scheme, please contact us to learn more

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