TREE clearance work has begun on islands in the River Wharfe at Otley.

The trees on the section of the river below Otley Weir are being removed as part of the preparatory phase for the town’s £3.3 million Flood Alleviation Scheme.

The work has to be carried out now as the Environment Agency has ruled out other times of the year due to concerns about the impact on migrating fish and nesting birds.

The footpath beside the weir has been closed and access to part of the nearby children’s play area has been restricted while the work is underway.

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: “I welcome the news that this work is to take place as it will enable the larger flood relief scheme to go ahead.”

The flood defence scheme, due to start next spring will involve creating a long embankment on land beside Billams Hill that will stretch from Otley Bridge to Newall Mount.