The Environment Agency (EA) proposed a three stage Flood Alleviation Scheme (OFAS) about 17 years ago.

Since then, it has carried out several improvements , collected a massive amount of data and done plenty of computer modelling. The background planning framework has also changed considerably.

The EA has stuck to its original idea without adequately pursuing the alternatives and ignoring advice form experts. Now their own modelling suggests that the excavation of the middle part of the ‘channel’ , from Botley to Redbridge, makes little difference to flood alleviation. After all, the flood plain here has functioned for a thousand years.

Since 2007 we have new mini-culverts under Willow Walk, major silt clearance under Munday’s Bridge, two large new culverts at Cold Harbour which prevented the railway from flooding this winter, temporary defences at Osney and South Hinksey, and the promise of an embankment to protect Osney Mead from the West.

The quickest route to a worthwhile long-term solution would be to abandon the central part of the ‘channel’.

The replanned channel widenings, culverts and bridges would still produce almost the same reduction in flood risk, and far less opposition and controversy. Money saved, say £40 million, could be used to provide targeted financial help to residents and businesses in Osney, Botley and Abingdon Road whose properties will still be at risk from groundwater whatever happens.

I hope that whatever the result of the Public Enquiry on the Compulsory Purchase Orders, the County Council Planning Committee [due to meet on May 15], turns down the EA’s current premature and inadequate proposal in Oxford’s long term interests.

Dr Tim King


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