Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (OFAS)
2020 update by Hinksey and Osney Environment Group (HOEG)
HOEG met on 6th February 2020 to consider progress on the OFAS.
In early January 2020 the Environment Agency (EA) notified landowners / tenants previously served with OFAS Compulsory Purchase Orders that the Scheme is currently being delayed. This is because there needs to be a new bridge on the bypass at the end of the Abingdon Road. This means the new flood alleviation plan will change because the new bridge will improve the flows of water. The lead time for this is potentially over two years.
HOEG strongly supports the need to address West and South Oxford flooding concerns. Members think that this planning delay creates an excellent opportunity to improve OFAS further, especially to understand better its immediate and mid-term climate impact both in terms of carbon capture and local air pollution, the economic challenges to the Botley Road during construction, and new opportunities to reduce substantially OFAS' original £150+ million budget. Members of HOEG will be forwarding fully worked and costed alternative solutions to the appropriate authorities.
Though the effects of even-slightly-above-average rainfall bursts are increasing annually because waterways are silting up and routine maintenance has ended, new technology operating sluice gates above Oxford appears to work well and to limit flooding. At the request of HOEG, the EA is enhancing the hydrological assumptions used in modelling the proposed flood channel. Upgrading the quality of data for this flood modelling for such a major investment benefits all stakeholders.
The current OFAS plan requires excavation of historic meadows west of Oxford, removing the substantial carbon capture provided by existing 1,000 year old grassland and established trees. The planned wide channel will make relatively little difference to the 1300 (not 4500) properties at risk of flooding but will add major air pollution impact due to construction activities and diesel lorry movement of local gravel from the meadows to offsite locations. The carbon, nitrogen and particulate air pollution impacts of the Scheme’s first 5-20 years were not fully evaluated in OFAS' initial proposal documents.
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