An independent review of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme, commissioned by Vale of White Horse District Council, has confirmed that the proposed flood alleviation scheme will have no impact on communities downstream in the Vale or South Oxfordshire.The Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme will be approximately three miles long and will run from the north of Botley Road to re-join the River Thames near Kennington. The scheme will reduce the risk of flooding from the River Thames to all homes and businesses in Oxford, as well as to services and major transport routes into the city, particularly around Botley and Abingdon Road. This will help avoid a repeat of the disruption and damage caused by floods in 2007, 2012 and 2013/14.Communities downstream were concerned that the Oxford scheme would increase their flood risk.In 2016 the Environment Agency produced technical modelling using sophisticated computer programmes which showed that the scheme would not change flood risk of communities downstream. As with all Environment Agency modelling this was independently checked.In 2017, due to local concerns, Vale of White Horse District Council commissioned independent expert, Water Resource Associates, to further review the work carried out by the Environment Agency.This independent review confirms that the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme will not put communities downstream at any greater risk of flooding. To read the full Water Resource Associates’ review visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/OFAS.Cllr Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “This is very positive news. Although we have always been supportive of the Oxford scheme it was important for us to listen and respond to our residents’ concerns. We’re pleased that the independent review findings confirm the Environment Agency’s modelling, providing much needed reassurance for downstream communities that they won’t be impacted by the new scheme.“We know communities by the River Thames will always have concerns over flooding and we will continue to work with them and Environment Agency on feasible and appropriate flood prevention projects, such as the St Helen’s Mill scheme in Abingdon.”Dr Harvey Rodda from Water Resource Associates said: “After receiving all of the documentation from the Environment Agency and their consultants working on the OFAS we were pleased that a thorough investigation on the potential downstream impacts had taken place and the results showed there would be a negligible impact of flooding on the areas along the downstream reach of the River Thames from Sandford to Mapledurham.”Jo Larmour, Project Director at the Environment Agency said: “The Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme will have a positive impact on people and communities outside of Oxford. The scheme will reduce disruption to roads and the railway during flooding, a relief to those who commute into Oxford or travel on surrounding transport links. This will also benefit the approximately 7 million people who visit Oxford every year.”
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.
We attended a ‘Councillor Update’ on the scheme at County Hall last evening. Cllr Rodney Rose introduced the evening, followed by contributions from the Environment Agency, Oxford City Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). There was a good attendance from councillors, and plenty of questions and discussion after the presentations.