SOFAG letter to Oxford Times 25 May 2021

Flood Scheme consultation:
Green shoots from the Environment Agency

Can I, as a resident of South Oxford, encourage your readers to enter into the spirit of the consultation from the Environment Agency (EA) on their revised flood scheme, closing date 31 May?

At first glance there is not much difference: still earthmoving on the meadowland: still two new bridges at the Kennington Road T-junction; still extra water going into residential Kennington. But importantly the consultation confirms that the Agency `continue to look into some of [the] suggestions' from the Hinksey and Osney Environment Group (HOEG) as follows:

For the western meadowland, it seems that if you replace 50m lengths of stock fencing with electric fencing (does not trap flotsam), the flood plain operates as it has for 12,000 years. A possible gesture in this direction is that the consultation is replacing the term `channel' with `lowered flood plain', which will facilitate debates on either HOEG’s Alternative 1A (pumped pipeline) or their Alternative 1B (`smoothed section of flood plain').

Moving downstream, the consultation wants water to `pass under main roads'. This suggests movement in the direction of HOEG’s Alternative 2 at the Kennington T-junction, where as proposed flood water will hit the underside of the bridge in a 2-year return period. Raising the bridge by only 1 metre allows a full 100-year return flood to pass freely underneath, hopefully reducing backup into South Oxford and South Hinksey - the Agency has called this an `elegant solution'.

Finally, in residential Kennington itself, the old scheme showed raised water levels. The alternative in that case is to let flood water escape through a new railway culvert before it even gets to Kennington. HOEG is calling this the `Barry Russell' culvert in honour of the Agency’s engineer who originally proposed it.

Green shoots? A consultation like this responds to numbers, so please submit your questions.

Brian Durham
South Oxford Flood Action Group

12 Lake Street
Oxford OX1 4RN

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