We have just sent this to the people on our mailing list:
Since our last update in February this year we have seen further steady progress on the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (OFAS), designed to reduce flood risk for hundreds of properties in Oxford and nearby. We have been involved in several ways:
- As part of the Sponsoring Group, the body representing the various partners in the scheme and having overall responsibility for it.
- Urging that maintenance be provided for in perpetuity rather than just 10 years. We have proposed setting up a dedicated body to be responsible for this; this idea has received good support. We are discussing with the Environment Agency and partners other possible approaches, and if an independent body, what corporate structure might be best.
- We have been working with the Freshwater Habitats Trust and the Environment Agency to try to ensure that the scheme (while it will regrettably involve some environmental losses) can incorporate significant environmental enhancements too, including the important freshwater habitat.
- We are supporting the EA if their efforts to close the funding gap for the scheme – currently at $4m. This money needs to be found by the end of November if the scheme is to go ahead.
- We have participated in a number of public consultation events about the route of the scheme.
OFAS is running to schedule, and assuming the money is found the next major step is application for planning permission, probably in spring 2018.
Earl Street has a new, dedicated, mobile pump that will be available to them in the event of future floods. Nick Hills, an Earl Street resident and member of our Steering Group, applied successfully for a generous grant, £20,000, from Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks.
South Hinksey groundworks have been completed, meaning the village is now ‘temporary barrier ready’ when floods next threaten. Many thanks to the Vale of the White Horse District Council for funding and to the Environment Agency, especially engineer Magnus Williams, for all the hard work that’s made this happen.
Both areas can now look forward to the coming winter with more confidence.
Seacourt Park & Ride
As reported previously we opposed the application by Oxford City Council to extend this P&R into the flood plain. The application did not, in our view, show that flood risk would not be increased. We believe that a revised application will be advertised at some point and we will scrutinise this with care. The timeframe for this is currently not clear.
Following the elections this year we have two new MPs, Anneliese Dodds for Oxford East, and Layla Moran for Oxford West & Abingdon; we are in the process of meeting and briefing them on flood related matters. Both MPs are supportive of the need for a flood scheme.
OFA Steering Group
Congratulations to Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon) and Andrew Smith (Oxford East) who have both retained their parliamentary seats in yesterday’s general election.
Flooding presents a real threat to the welfare of the people and city of Oxford. Climate change is likely to increase that risk in future. Both our MPs have already expressed their support for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme. We look forward to continuing to work with them and others on this so-important multi-partner project.
The scheme could become a reality within this next parliament: that would be fantastic for the city we are so lucky to live in, helping to ensure it continues to thrive.