MORE than 300,000 trees are to be planted as part of a flood alleviation scheme in Leeds.

The trees will be planted in the River Aire catchment area following a successful bid to the government for £700,000.

The news has been welcomed by Horsforth ward councillors who say the scheme is expected to create at least 365 acres of woodland - equivalent to around 200 football pitches.

The extra government funding was awarded to Leeds City Council’s Flood Alleviation Scheme which includes natural flood management.The Leeds FAS is led by the council working alongside the Environment Agency.

The bid, which will pay for 333,333 trees, was made to the Partnership Innovation Fund, a programme managed by the Woodland Trust to enable the creation of new woodland in the Northern Forest through the planting of one million trees by March 2022.The Partnership Innovation Fund is part of a £5.7m grant awarded by Defra to the Woodland Trust in 2018 to help kick-start delivery of the Northern Forest.

The first few thousand trees in the Leeds City Council project were planted over the winter. A further 75,000 are planned by March 2021 and 253,333 by the end of March 2022.

Councillor Jonathon Taylor said: “This is very welcome and follows through from discussions I had with Government ministers at the end of last year about the cost of purchasing the trees.”

Councillor Dawn Collins. who chairs the Biodiversity Sub-Group, added: “This is an excellent project that has given us an opportunity to develop both private and public land for tree planting. Working with the private sector more in the future is going to be key in getting to the quantity of trees we need planted.”

Guiseley and Rawdon councillor Paul Wadsworth, Conservative Group Spokesman for the Environment, said: “Additional Government funding is always welcome, but especially so where the environment is concerned. These trees will leave a legacy for the city for generations to come.”

Holly Radcliffe, project manager with the Environment Agency for the Leeds FAS programme, said:”These trees will be planted on both public and private land and provide direct benefits to local communities living near the River Aire. We would like to work with local landowners who are willing to support the project by allowing us to plant trees on some of their land.”

Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake said: “This additional funding is very much welcome as tree planting is a key part of tackling the climate emergency. Planting of this scale has been proven to help reduce flood risk and can bring a wealth of other benefits such as storing carbon, better air quality and increased biodiversity.”