A £50,000 study into the causes of flooding in Otley will begin this autumn.

The move follows a successful funding bid by Otley Town Council and Oxford University for a flood prevention research project.

Otley was one of the worst affected towns in Wharfedale during the autumn and Boxing Day floods in 2015.

The River Wharfe burst its banks several times last autumn and rose to triple its usual height during the Christmas holidays, when many riverside homes were flooded.

Leeds City Council (LCC) announced in February that it was applying to the Environment Agency's (EA) local levy fund for a feasibility study to see how future flooding could be controlled.

This followed the Otley and Yeadon ward councillors organised a meeting in Otley, following the Boxing Day floods, which involved LCC, the EA and emergency services.

The results of the Oxford University and town council-led research will feed into that wider study, in the hope of identifying solutions to prevent future high water hell.

Cllr Mick Bradley (Green, Danefield) said: "Following the Boxing Day flooding I, like many residents, looked for ways to support those affected.

"I contacted Professor Sarah Whatmore at Oxford University to ask for help after reading about the flood prevention work in Pickering.

"Inspired by this, I set up an initial meeting of the Pickering team with local town councillors, which led to this funding bid being made."

Due to start in September and to run for eight months, the project will involve local, trained volunteers working with academic experts to create a model of flooding in Otley.

The resulting report and its recommendations will then be presented to LCC and the EA.

As a result of the £49,670 scheme, Otley will also feature as a case study for a new, web-based community modelling toolkit, which will help other towns carry out similar work.

As well as modelling how the town floods under different conditions, the study will explore ways of alleviating future flooding, including the possibility of using natural defences on local hills to 'slow the flow'.

Town council chairman, Cllr Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield), said: "We were pleased to be invited by Oxford University to partner up and are delighted to now be receiving the project funding.

"This will be an important contribution to understanding how best to alleviate flood risk and will work well if all local interested parties are involved, so do get involved if you can.

"The town council is well placed to facilitate this community-led project, which will feed into the further work needed from Leeds and the Environment Agency."

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