£123 Million Flood Plans for Oxford

A new proposal to alleviate flooding in Oxford, UK, was discussed during a meeting on Saturday 1 March 2014. The meeting was attended by representatives of the emergency services, local councils and the Environment Agency.

Oxford has suffered regularly from flooding this winter (2013 to 2014). In January 168 homes were flooded and 32 people had to evacuate. Flooding has also blighted the city in previous years, including 2012 and particularly 2007 where 3,000 homes were inundated and 600 people needed to be evacuated.

The Botley Road and Abingdon road areas are particularly vulnerable. As we explained in an earlier report:

Oxford has been at particular risk of flooding over the last decade. The city sits in a narrow valley alongside the River Thames. Heavy rainfall in areas further upstream, such as the Cotswolds, will invariably pose a flood risk in parts of Oxford as the levels of the River Thames rise. The valley is especially narrow near the south of the city, making this area at particular risk of flooding.

Also an issue in Oxford is the fact that many of the natural drainage areas have been built on with roads, housing or railways, no longer allowing excess rain water or even flood water from overflowing rivers, to drain away. In some cases, roads act as dams, forcing flood water to build up in certain areas, such as the Botley Road.

The meeting at the weekend was arranged to discuss how to protect Oxford from future floods. One of the main items on the agenda was the plan to build a flood channel around the city. Labeled the for “Western Conveyance channel” the plan is to divert flood waters from north of Botley Road to the south of the city at Sandford Lock, Sandford-on-Thames.

Funding is still an issue. The cost is estimated at £123 million, although the channel could provide benefits of over £1 billion over the future by protecting homes and economy. For example, the closure of Abingdon and Botley roads during the January floods cost the city’s economy around £40 million, according to Oxford City Council.

A further, larger “flood summit” meeting is expected to be held later this month to discuss the Western Conveyance channel plans and other ways to protect Oxford from further floods.

Sources: BBC; Oxford Mail