The flood exercise mentioned in the last post, testing and demonstrating readiness to deploy defences, is under way today. In South Hinksey temporary barriers are being set up by the Environment Agency (EA). At Bullstake Close on the Botley Road the barriers there, which have been used before in a flood, will be erected; and fire crews are showing how the pipe which has been installed under the Botley Road can be used to deal with flood water and reduce the flooding of the road.
For South Hinksey this is a very reassuring demonstration of the ability to now defend the village from flooding. Such barriers have never been used here before.
Of course Oxford still needs a bigger, more permanent scheme – in the form of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme. The OFA update in the previous post summarises the present position – the Scheme is under way, albeit delayed. In the meantime today’s activities show that we will not be without protection in the interim.
Emma Howard-Boyd, Chair of the EA, and Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive, are in South Hinksey today to see what’s being done and meet the teams and there is no doubt that protecting Oxford in both the short and long term is being taken very seriously.
Our thanks to everyone who is working hard on behalf of the many local residents, businesses and other organisations affected by flooding.
River levels upstream and in Oxford peaked overnight and, weather permitting, should now slowly but steadily continue to fall. The weather forecast, while not wall-to-wall sunshine, looks reasonably encouraging.
In the event no properties were flooded and no temporary barriers were deployed this time, though it came very close to it.
Thank you to all the many people from the Environment Agency who have monitored things closely, and made preparations to deploy defences should the need arise.
River levels in Oxford today have not risen as far as had been predicted. So good news so far. The EA is watching things closely for the whole area.
In the case of South Hinksey, the barriers which were delivered there this morning are to be kept in reserve for now. Barriers for other areas remain in reserve at Osney.
Temporary flood barriers will be moved from Osney to South Hinksey tomorrow, in readiness for possible deployment by the Environment Agency tomorrow or Wednesday – if conditions require. The situation following the recent rains is being closely monitored and analysed – what happens will depend on these assessments. Similar vigilance applies to the deployment of barriers for Osney Island and at Hinksey Park on the Abingdon Road: barriers for both these areas are ready at Osney if needs be. These latter areas have had temporary barriers before, whereas for South Hinksey, if it happens, it will be a first, following making the village ‘barrier-ready’. Temporary barriers are supported by high volume pumps to deal with any water leaking through the barrier or arriving within the barrier as rising groundwater.
The recently appointed new Chair of Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), Professor Robert Van de Noort, visited Oxford on 19 October with EA staff. He was briefed on the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme and then shown the Seacourt area at the western end of the Botley Road, which marks the northern end of the Scheme.
We were pleased to meet Professor Van de Noort in South Hinksey, where he went on to see both the lie of the land where the channel will come past the village and on to Kennington to the south, and the earthworks done in the village itself to make the village ‘temporary barrier ready’ for the coming winter and beyond.
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.
South Hinksey: preparing to fit non-return flap valves
Site around a pipe which drains a ditch cleared, preparatory to installing a pre-cast header wall with integral flap valve
New gate, wide enough to accomodate temporary barriers
New garden gates, again wide enough to take a barrier
Removable fence panel and posts to accommodate a barrier
Reinforced fence, forming a permanent barrier at this point
On 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.
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.
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.
South Hinksey: groundwork for temporary flood barriers
Permissions have to be obtained, plans drawn and contracts agreed, so it will be a time till diggers appear. Funding is thanks to the Vale of White Horse District Council. Execution is shared between the Council and the Environment Agency. Surveying has begun. Work on the ground is now expected to begin in September.
South Hinksey’s community demo last October sought financial support for groundwork so we would be able to use temporary flood barriers to protect the village. Great news that our Vale District Council has agreed to pay for this groundwork – needed to level the land, and provide for crossing a field ditch.
Permissions have to be sought, plans drawn and contracts agreed, so it will be some time till diggers appear. Surveying has already begun.
While the Environment Agency cannot promise barriers till the day, the omens are good. The ground will be ready, as will our community team to put the barrier up.