- The withdrawn Flood Alleviation Scheme would have cost £149 million (Christmas 2019 estimate). Its aims can be achieved at half the price and less than half the disruption. The scheme is not cost-effective.
- The untried, experimental proposal to build a two-stage channel, one metre deep and up to two hundred metres wide, through the floodplains west of Oxford will require removing 275,000 tons of earth and Thames Gravel from the area. If removed by road this will require 27,500 vehicle movements with a vast carbon footprint. The issue of a vast number of vehicle movements was a major reason for the rejection of the proposed SCIOX Science Park at South Hinksey off the A 34.
- Viable alternatives have been put forward, not requiring a channel, which need proper consideration. Oxford University hydrologists have shown that the proposed ‘channel’ between Botley and the old Abingdon Road through the meadows makes such little difference to the water levels that it is not worth building. A pumped pipeline solution has been put by HOEG to the EA. This will have zero environment impact, will cost less and will be built quicker.
- The scheme will destroy a habitat and environment of braided streams. Hinksey Meadow has probably had the same management regime for 1000 years. The meadows are home to some rare plant communities.
- The Railway Act of 1843 requires that railway embankments permit free passage of natural water flow. The current plan does not make provision for sufficient bridges and culverts under the tracks to allow for this, as shown by the EA’s own modelled water levels.
- The OFAS scheme pledges to replace the hundreds of trees which it will destroy. It does not reveal that for such replacements to grow to maturity will take between 15 and up to 45 years for some trees. Both HOEG alternatives leave all existing trees in place.
- The OFAS scheme will damage the rare grassland in the Hinksey Meadows (3.4% of all the MG4a in the UK). Together with the destruction of trees, this will alter the whole balance of the ecosphere and thus the habitat of the plants, insects, animals (including bats) and birds that thrive here. Equivalent wild life corridors will not mature for 50-100 years.
- A concrete wall is also planned along the Osney Mead boundary facing southwest. This, redolent of the Botley walls on the A34, together with the removal of the trees, will ruin the historic view painted by J.M.W. Turner in 1837 of Oxford from North Hinksey, apart from spoiling the rural view across the meadows.
- The whole area is Green Belt and a conservation area. Restrictions on ‘alterations’ can only be overridden in ‘exceptional’ circumstances. If the flood scheme can be put in place without the huge scar of the channel, why would it count as an exceptional circumstance?
Chris Sugden (Canon Dr) for Hinksey and Osney Environment Group