OFAS Flood Channel “Not worth it”

Almost 80 people attended an open public forum arranged by the Oxford Flood and Environment Group at the West Oxford Community Centre on November 19th to interrogate the anticipated Environment Agency plans for alleviating the flood threat to West Oxford.

While everyone wants an appropriate flood alleviation plan, it was made very clear that the most expensive part of the current plan, a channel through the Hinksey Meadows would account for a quarter of the cost but generate only 5% of the benefit and cause the greatest damage to the ecology and amenity of the area which would be irreparable. Planting saplings which take up to 80 years to grow to maturity is no compensation for losing 4000 mature trees.

Were the channel not included, the scores of compulsory purchase orders it requires, and the ensuing public enquiry would not be needed. The eight most cost effective parts of the plan could then proceed giving up to eighty per cent flood protection. Such a channel is a ‘passive’ system which would only move the most water at the peak of the flood. A warm welcome was given to the proposed alternative, a ‘cut and cover’ pumped pipeline through the meadows. This would avoid removing 30,000 lorry loads of spoil via the A34, and would convey almost 10 per cent more water than the peak flow of the channel, starting as soon as the water levels begin to rise.

Participants were encouraged to begin a conversation around the community, to make their objections known via local politicians and to the Replacement Application and the Compulsory Purchase Orders when they are served.

Presentations made by the panel of experts in hydrology, environmental impact assessment, ecology, flood water management, and the economics of the proposed OFAS scheme are available here on https://www.oxfordfloodandenvironmentgroup.com/.

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