Your leading article and opinion (June 13) https://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/17703067.oxford-councils-object-to-land-grab-for-flood-channel/ highlight objections by backers such as the city and county councils to OFAS (Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme), in respect of CPO (Compulsory Purchase Orders) for parcels of their land. A public enquiry is due to resolve all CPO objections later this year.
Hinksey Meadow, and the whole floodplain, play an increasingly important role in moderating Thames flow in times of flood and also being a place of relative tranquility and visual harmony for people to enjoy. There are the ancient Monks Causeway and modern Willow Walk; fields for keeping horses, and footpaths across open fields with wildflowers. Hundreds of mature trees border the rivers, streams and small channels that drain the Meadow.
These semi-natural features have come about through the agency of expediency over decades and centuries: a slow and subtle process of the merging of humanity’s intentions and the rounding action of nature that takes years to develop.
To believe that an industrial scale engineering project, which divides Hinksey Meadow in two and causes wholesale destruction can soon harmonise with its timeworn surroundings is technical arrogance.
Worse still, OFAS fails to achieve a significant advantage in the massive volume drainage and storage required during a flood. It does too little, too late, only reaching its full flow capacity when the water at Botley Road reaches dangerous levels.
HOEG (Hinksey and Osney Environent Group) have devised three alternative plans that offer equal or better protection than OFAS, whilst preserving Hinksey Meadow:
- i)A phased approach that eliminates the channel between Botley and The OAR (Old Abingdon Road) and retaining the rest of OFAS. The pinch point at OAR would have flow capacity increased into the Weirs Mill stream.
- ii)Adjustment through flow compensation. Constructing an enclosed storage area to one side of the Meadow plain can advantageously alter the timing of water level changes.
iii) By running a pair of two-metre diameter buried pipelines along an 8-metre wide trench, and pumping water underground from Seacourt to an outflow below the Old Abingdon Road, control of flood water may be established at an early stage. Pipeline flow capacity is greater than for OFAS, and we provisionally estimate the cost at £100m, some £50m less than for the channel scheme.
We object to OFAS for its brutalist and inefficient approach in an environmentally sensitive part of Oxford that deserves far better treatment in solving an urgent problem.
Hinksey and Osney Environment Group