2 Oxford FAS meetings

IMG_6013cropfloodplain2008

Oxford floodplain in 2008, a little water in the fields

27 October 2014
Two meetings.
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.

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Work begins at Munday’s

8 April 2013

Work has now begun to improve Munday’s bridge, Kennington. It has been a very long wait (see 9 March) but well worth waiting for. We have been critical of Thames Water recently, over sewer flooding in various parts of Oxford, but on Munday’s we owe them a big thank you, as their work will help not only in Kennington but in the west Oxford flood plain generally. Especial thanks too to the residents who are having to put up with months of work, including pile-driving at night.

Munday’s bridge under the railway at Kennington

9 March 2013

We have been urging that this serious bottleneck near Redbridge be sorted out since 2007. Improvements were made in 2009, but more was needed.

Now there is a multi-partner project between Thames Water, Network Rail, Oxford City Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and Oxfordshire County Council to make further improvements. Delays due to legal issues have now been resolved, thanks to help from Oxford’s two MPs, Nicola Blackwood and Andrew Smith. We hope work will now start in early April, but as things are now almost a year late we will only be sure when it actually begins. Nevertheless, action is in sight, and will help reduce the flood risk for many people.

Pinchpoints

3 January 2013

River levels are still about 1m above normal in the west Oxford floodplain. This emphasises the difficulty water has in getting away from our area. It  has to get under the main-line railway to reach the Thames. There are three bridges under the railway downstream of the Botley Road.

We have been campaigning about the furthest downstream, Munday’s bridge, a 60ft bridge at Kennington, for some years. We are eagerly awaiting the start of a Thames Water project to greatly improve the flow of water under the bridge. There have been delays, but we are optimistic that the work will go ahead reasonably soon. This should reduce flooding of property and the railway line.

Sewer flooding

Sewer emptying 25.12.12

South Hinksey, Christmas Day 2012

25 December 2012

Overflowing sewers being emptied on behalf of Thames Water (TW) in South Hinksey on Christmas Day. A big thank you to the men doing the work for the last few days and right through the Christmas season.

Sewer flooding has been a problem in parts of Botley, North and South Hinksey and Kennington for some years, but notably worse in the last three or four. Heavy rain regularly results in manholes overflowing with foul effluent. Before and during the November river floods, sewage overflowed in large amounts in South Hinksey, into houses, gardens and streets. The contaminated effluent entered local watercourses – pollution reports have been filed by the Environment Agency. Nicola Blackwood, MP, called a Public Meeting in South Hinksey. In a packed hall, Thames Water apologised for what had happened, and that some failings of theirs had not helped. They agreed, among other things, to publish plans to address hydraulic overload, blockages and the upgrade of Littlemore pumping station, to include an overview of timelines.

In the threatened floods now, TW tankers have been in South Hinksey regularly to empty the sewers, making a great improvement on November. The community now awaits the promised plans. There must be serious problems somewhere, which desperately need sorting out, because the sewers overflow when there is no river flooding – and more seriously in the last few years.

The Abingdon Road area had very similar problems in the November floods, with tankers employed to relieve the sewers.

Sewers get overloaded in flood conditions in parts of the Botley Road area.

Munday’s bridge, 22 Sept 2012

22 September 2012

Thames Water is about to begin work to sort out the area of Munday’s bridge under the railway in Kennington. As well as dealing with local flooding in Kennington, the work will allow the whole western floodplain to drain better, to the benefit of all in our area upstream. All credit, and thanks, to Thames Water for doing this substantial and important work. See http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/yourtown/oxford/9883845.Flood_prevention_scheme_goes_on_show/

We have been concerned about this area since we formed in 2007. That concern arose from the special local knowledge of John Mastroddi, a founder member of OFA’s Steering Group, who had been concerned for many years before that. His garden backs onto the site, although his house has never flooded. The local flooded community owes a debt to John and his wife, and their neighbours, for the sacrifices they are making so this work can be done: see our recent letter to the Oxford Times:
http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/forum/letters/9928463.Sacrifices_to_save_flood_misery/

Munday’s bridge, December 2011

15 December 2011

Progress after years of trying! Thames Water have a project to improve flood water drainage off the Kennington Road and this will include extensive work at Munday’s to ensure that water can then get away from the area. This is extremely good news, as Munday’s is a severe pinchpoint holding water back in the floodplain west of the railway. Thames Water hope to start work in the spring.

Removal of the redundant level crossing bridge

19 January 2010

From our man in Kennington: “Network Rail have started the work to clear the concrete bridge.” This is the redundant level crossing bridge at Redbridge which obstructs Hinksey Drain. It is the final one of the three pinchpoints at Redbridge, that we highlighted in 2007, to be dealt with. Very good news indeed!

The photos show before, during and after: