Our Annual Public Meeting, 22 February

Our 9th Annual Public Meeting is on Wednesday 22 February 2017.

There is lots to hear and talk about and everybody is welcome.

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South Hinksey ‘barrier-ready’ works all but complete

In South Hinksey, the works designed to make deploying temporary defences, should flooding threaten, quicker and easier, are almost complete.

Three flap valves have just been installed on pipes which connect into field ditches. These non-return valves will allow water out from within any temporary barrier but not allow it back in from the flooded area outside.

Elsewhere wide garden gates have been installed, reinforced fences built, and removable fence panels fitted.

A very few minor snagging items remain, but the scheme is otherwise complete and fully ready for temporary barriers. Many thanks to the Vale of White Horse District Council for funding and to the Environment Agency for organising the work – not least to engineer Magnus Williams who has managed the scheme from its inception to its completion. Thanks too to farmer Nick Frearson, and to the horse owners for their cooperation during the works.

Maintenance of Weirs Mill Stream

Environment Agency contractors have been working on the Weirs Mill Stream and nearby this month. We helped identify the need for this maintenance (see 2015 APM report para 3). The work will  improve conveyance of water through this important part of the Oxford river network. It is above and beyond the usual annual maintenance programme and is being paid for using additional funds which the Environment Agency received from The Treasury following last winter’s flooding.

 

Annual Public Meeting 2015

Our Annual Public Meeting on 19 November was well attended – we were delighted to welcome many members of the public, local councillors, representatives of all the local flood agencies, an Oxford University researcher and Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East. Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, and Rodney Rose, Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, sent their apologies.

Adrian Porter began the evening by setting out our three key current objectives:

  • support for the proposed multi-partner Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (Oxford FAS)
  • maintenance of existing waterways
  • that as and when the Oxford FAS happens, maintenance should be properly provided for from the start.

He went on to give an overview of the past year including our recent boat trip, with the Environment Agency, which identified necessary maintenance on Weirs Mill Stream: this work is being planned and funding being sought. John Mastroddi provided detail on the clearance under Munday’s bridge, which completes the project begun in 2013. Impending planning applications at Seacourt P&R and Oxford Four Pillars Hotel, both firmly in the floodplain, are on our radar.

Nick Hills, our Treasurer, told us that we had £346 in the bank, enough for several years at the present rate of spending! Nevertheless, being the good treasurer he is, he asked people to leave any donations as they left: this raised a very generous £110. Nick set out some of the things we’d been pleased to see in the year: among those not referred to in more detail later on were the permanent pipe under the Botley Road to allow pumping across the road without disruption to traffic (County and City Councils), Waitrose’s use of SUDS at their new shop and the successful public events for OFAS during the summer.

He explained how we support OFAS in principle and are contributing to the process along with the other partners – but always reserving the right to be a ‘critical friend’.

The first of our guest speakers, Joanna Grew from Network Rail, gave an account of their proposed Hinksey Flood Alleviation Scheme: this includes the clearing of culverts at Coldharbour (for which we have been pushing for some time), track raising and installation of new culverts. More detail can be seen in Joanna’s presentation downloadable here. You can download a leaflet about the scheme here.

James Playfair explained the progress of Thames Water’s ongoing sewer survey across Oxford, the Oxford Catchment Study. This is about to enter its second year: already some issues have been resolved including significant improvements to the pumps at Littlemore Pumping Station. The presentation can be downloaded here.

Last but not least Emma Formoy from the Environment Agency gave the meeting an up-to-date account of the Oxford FAS; Emma mentioned the possible wider benefits of the scheme, including for wildlife, and the crucial importance of rigorous modelling. More detail in the presentation downloadable here: this includes dates of the next round of Public Events in January 2016 when a consultation on the route options for the scheme will begin. These can be also seen in the Oxford FAS Newsletter – November 2015, perhaps more easily. In parallel with these events, people will be able to view these proposed options and partake in the consultation online.

Apart from these individual achievements and plans, what is remarkable, and heartening, is the considerable cooperation, for example sharing of modelling data, between these three agencies – i.e. they talk to each other! As one of us commented later, we have come a very long way since 2007. We are grateful to our guests for coming to talk and for all the work their organisations are doing. The sum (assuming they all reach fruition) will give Oxford a better, and more secure and sustainable, future.

Nick Hills presented Steve Smith, Engineer with Oxford City Council, with our Flood Star award for this year. This is in recognition and thanks for Steve’s sterling work on many flood schemes and smaller works over the years, as well as co-ordinating the Oxford Area Flood Partnership.

Peter Rawcliffe spoke about OFA’s suggestion for maintaining Oxford FAS: as this is to be largely a ‘natural’ channel it will be subject to inevitable deterioration – so providing both a problem and an opportunity. OFA proposes that a trust be established, in perpetuity, to manage for both flood alleviation and wildlife. Trustees could be drawn from the several stakeholders – landowners, local authorities, Environment Agency, academics and wildlife bodies – to name just a few. We believe this is a practical way to make the most of what the scheme offers Oxford and its residents and visitors. This 7km channel will be ever more essential to Oxford if climate change develops as predicted. Each km may cost £18 million to build. We need to treasure it: in our view a local trust with local accountability, and autonomy to manage as it sees fit, fits the bill.

Simon Collings discussed modelling: as mentioned above this is absolutely vital to developing the case for OFAS – both to be as sure as humanly possible that it will work and equally importantly that no one downstream will be disadvantaged. We recently attended a meeting at the School of Geography, Oxford University: Simon explained some of the potential pitfalls of modelling that we had learned of there, and suggested that community review of the OFAS modelling (assisted by expert modellers) be included in the scrutiny process. This in addition to review by academic modeller(s) which is already under discussion for the scheme and which we strongly support.

We thank those who attended for their support and we thank our visiting speakers for helping to make the meeting a success. Our thanks too to the West Oxford Democrats Club for generously allowing us to use their hall once again.

Notice of our Annual Public Meeting – next Thursday, November 19th

Oxford Flood Alliance logoANNUAL PUBLIC MEETING:

THURSDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2015

At The Democrats, Osney Island, 7.30 pm. Entrance at the north end of East Street.
Doors open from 7.00 pm.

EVERYONE VERY WELCOME –

YOUR CHANCE TO HEAR THE LATEST FROM

Network Rail on their plans to clear blocked culverts under the railway north of Redbridge.

Environment Agency on the multi-million pound Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) (Western Conveyance)

Thames Water on their major review of Oxford’s sewers.

ALSO

Hear our ideas on how Oxford FAS might be maintained not only for flood alleviation but also for wildlife.

Local planning applications, Weirs Mill Stream – and more.

South Hinksey sewer flooding

We held a meeting on 20 August 2015 to discuss this, especially in relation to possible temporary bunding of the village at time of river flooding.

Representatives from Thames Water (TW), the Environment Agency (EA) and of OFA from South Hinksey met. We had an interesting and fruitful discussion. These actions were agreed:

Thames Water (TW) to initiate a clean of the box culvert north of the village (by today, 27 Aug, this has already been ordered) and update us further on the work that has been, and still is being, done to considerably improve the pumping station at Littlemore.

TW will consider OFA’s suggestion of a sewer bypass for the village, as part of the ongoing Oxford Catchment Study.

Adrian Porter for OFA will fit a chain and handle to the existing non-return flap valve on the Manor Road surface water outlet to enable manual override if necessary.

The suggestion of a memorandum of understanding between the EA and TW, as to how sewer flooding would be dealt with at times of fluvial flooding, especially if a temporary bund were deployed, will be taken forward by the EA.

Many thanks to Thames Water and the Environment Agency for meeting with us and their very positive approach to the problems.

Meeting in South Hinksey

South Hinksey concrete flood wall, March 2014, post-floodOn Thursday evening 16 July,  30 or so parishioners met in South Hinksey Village Hall with Peter Collins and Magnus Williams from the Environment Agency (EA). We were pleased that local farmer Nick Frearson and a land agent on behalf of landowner Oxford City Council, were present too: they are important stakeholders in the project.

Groundwork
Engineer Magnus Williams presented his initial design ideas for groundwork to support deployment of temporary barriers for the village when flooding threatens. Magnus is talking to individual householders to ensure that everyone is happy with the specifics of the proposals.
We’re grateful to the Vale of White Horse District Council for providing £60k for the works and to the EA for providing the engineering design input, obtaining of permissions and so on.
We hope that things can move ahead as fast as possible as winter approaches and the risk of our flooding increases yet again.

Oxford FAS
Peter Collins, EA’s Asset Management Performance Team Leader for the Oxford area updated us on the aims and progress of the scheme.

Many thanks to Magnus and Peter for giving up their evening to meet us, much appreciated.

Working to reduce sewer flooding

Simon Collings represented OFA at the second meeting of Oxford City Council Scrutiny Panel on sewer flooding. Thames Water (TW) gave an update on where they are with a) Grandpont and b) the Oxford Catchment Study:

At Grandpont they have identified the most likely causes of sewer flooding and TW will now work with the City Council and residents to improve things. Local resident Brian Durham of OFA and SOFAG has been closely involved in this work.

On the Catchment Study they are engaged in two parallel processes:

  • a physical inspection of assets across the city – with any issues they identify being fixed as they go along (where the business case is obvious). This includes an inspection of both main trunk sewers.
  • customer surveys to help them understand where problems arise during a flood and how these manifest themselves.

So far they haven’t encountered anything which would suggest they need major capital investments, though they do plan to upgrade the pumps at Littlemore.

TW are talking to the Environment Agency (EA) team working on the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme, and the two modelling teams are going to share data and work together. By good luck the option development phases of both projects are working to similar timetables. EA will help TW understand how the river flooding affects the sewers, and TW will contribute to that work.

There will be one more meeting of the Scrutiny Panel in November/December but from then on formal reports will be given through the Oxford Area Flood Partnership, to avoid duplication of meetings.

Maintenance in Hinksey Stream

The Environment Agency have recently been clearing in the Hinksey Stream, this taken just south of South Hinksey.