Oxford floodplain in 2008, a little water in the fields
27 October 2014
First: we are represented on the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (Oxford FAS) (‘the Scheme’) Sponsorship Group – the committee backing these proposals. A few points:
• There is a long, rigorous assessment procedure to be gone through; it’s up to timetable.
• The economic case stacks up.
• The Scheme cannot risk making things worse downstream: this is key and must be established. [FWIW our view has long been that a successful scheme must keep water moving, getting it away earlier and not allowing it to build up enough to flood roads and buildings. But this will not send MORE water downstream, it doesn’t ‘generate new water’, it will only alter the time course. (Note that our flood plain will still flood, just not quite so deep.) That seems to make sense, but more rigorous evidence will rightly be required re any possible downstream effects.]
• The Scheme will enhance the natural environment.
• Public access will be better (cycle paths, footpaths).
• Climate change projections, if they come to pass, would make things very much worse than now, making the Scheme in our view even more imperative.
• The Scheme will have as an integral part measures (such as property-level protection) to help local areas/properties that are not ‘saved’ by the removal of existing pinch-points and the more efficient water flow in a redesigned watercourse. (NB that is not a guarantee that every property will be protected.)
Our support for the Scheme is now stronger than ever. But we know others have doubts or other ideas – if you want to discuss these please do come to our APM on November 13th (see below, 16 Oct). We will be there (of course!) and so will the EA.
Second: three of us met with Richard Harding of the EA Project Team for the Scheme. John Mastroddi (of OFA) presented the data from his own observations during the 2013/14 floods: these show that, as in the 1947 and other floods, that there is a 60cm difference in flood levels across the railway near Kennington. This is therefore the serious pinch-point and overcoming it is essential. John also presented his novel ideas about what might be done at Sandford-on-Thames as part of the Scheme: his ideas will now be considered during the assessment process.