Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is in talks with neighbouring authorities about measures to slow the flow of the water before it reaches their areas.
A meeting of the authority heard it was having eight sets of discussions with councils surrounding the 2,179sq km upland area, which is the source of numerous major rivers including the Ribble, Eden, Ure, Swale, Wharfe and Aire.
The authority’s chief executive said David Butterworth said the authority’ had reached an understanding with Leeds City Council over launching action in the national park to tackle flooding in the urban area by harnessing nature to temporarily hold rainwater in headwaters during storm events.
Adopting a “catchment approach”, with measures such as tree planting and natural dams, is viewed as a relatively cheap way of averting flooding, when compared to schemes such as the £50m project which opened in 2017 at Crown Point in Leeds which uses moveable weir technology.
Similarly, a £14m scheme to protect Ripon from the River Ure flooding was completed in 2012, to protect 548 homes and 96 businesses.
Mr Butterworth said councils were looking for “smarter” ways of dealing with intense rainfall and away from dealing with the consequences of flooding.
He said: “Leeds City Council has come to a view that they have put about as much concrete as they can around Leeds to try to protect that from flooding. So why not go and look where the water is coming from and actually put some investment, their money, into the Dales to slow that water down?
“Leeds are the first local authority that have approached us seriously to look at funding some of that work. I am a bit surprised that Leeds are the only ones because the ability of the Dales to flood most parts of northern England, whether that’s Lancaster, Carlisle, Preston, York, Boroughbridge, you name it we have flooded most of it.”
The authority’s director of conservation Gary Smith added: “There’s a general recognition that everybody’s moving in that same direction about natural flood management, so it’s heading in the right way, but everybody’s moving at different speeds, driven by slightly different agendas and we have got to feel our way through that.”