Work is set to begin on a major flood defence scheme in the centre of Leeds.

The Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme will aim to prevent the threat of the River Aire overflowing which it has been close to doing five times over the past decade. It is the UK's second biggest alleviation scheme and BAM Nuttall has been selected to work on the initial element of the £50 million project. The aim to protect homes and businesses form a one-in-75-year flood in the region.

Work will be carried out around the Hunslet area where the river passes by the Clarence Dock development in Leeds. The area is home to a host of properties, restaurants, a hotel, conference centre and The Royal Armouries. Further down the river there is student accommodation which sits on the banks of the Aire. BAM Nuttall will be responsible for the creation of an embankment, flood walls and storage pond at Woodlesford.

This first phase will cost £2 million to carry out and officials have earmarked a completion date of July 2014. BAM Nuttall is just one of the companies that has been granted asset framework contract with the GBV joint venture including both Galliford Try and Black & Veatch while JacksonHyder, JN Bentley with JBA and Team Van Oord have also secured deals for future work.

Leeds councillor Richard Lewis said: "These works in Woodlesford need to be carried out first to make improvements as quickly as possible. This will begin the process to provide the residents and businesses in that area with a level of protection and reassurance they have never had before."

According to figures from the council, Leeds has experienced a number of smaller floods in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. Officials are keen to avoid a widespread incident which have been prevalent in near neighbours York when the River Ouse burst its banks.ADNFCR-3337-ID-801690987-ADNFCR