Do we want this? Oxford needs a better flood scheme.
The Enviroment Agency (EA) has put in a planning application for an Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme comprising of flood walls, gates, bridges, culverts, and a giant 5km channel from the north of Botley Road to the south of Abingdon Road. The EA's own reports show that the channel is the most disruptive, costly and damaging part of the scheme, yet provides only marginal flood alleviation benefits compared to the other measures.
The channel will take 3-5 years to build, cost at least £23 million, and cause:
- Traffic holdups: Almost 200 HGV movements per day on the A34, a 40mph speed limit on parts of the A34, massive queues at Hinksey Hill junction.
- 2000+ trees to be removed and much of the biodiversity net gain happens offsite.
- 1.3ha of rare MG4a grassland in Hinksey Meadow to be lost, with risks of damage to the rest.
- South Hinksey village to be surrounded by works compounds and haul roads.
- Loss of recreation access to most of the fields between Botley Road and Old Abingdon Road for 3-5 years, and forever to some areas.
- The excavation of 455,000 cubic metres of soil and gravel with loss of carbon sequestration.
The scheme is intended to improve flood protection: the EA's figures show the number of dwellings with a greater than 1% annual risk of flooding reduces from 1126 to 180. However, the same figures show that the channel only accounts for 5.7% of this reduction (54 properties), which could be protected by more enviromentally friendly and effective methods.
Surely it makes more sense to adopt the scheme without the channel: we'd get most of the benefits with far fewer costs and minimal disruption. Meanwhile, a pumped pipeline alternative with even fewer costs and impacts hasn't even been analysed by th EA, despite offering more flood protection both now and in the future.
Please comment on the planning application by 9th May.
All documents can be found here. Application number: MW.0027/22 under 'Documents'.
The best document to start on is 'ES Non-Technical Summary' (36th document out of 300+).