PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO CONTROVERSIAL FLOOD SCHEME ANNOUNCED
DEFRA orders inquiry due to objections by landowners
The Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme, which would see a five km long channel dug through the western floodplain of the city, will be examined by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The inquiry was called by Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey following objections from landowners whose land is subject to a compulsory order.
The £176 million scheme by the Environment Agency, working together with partners including Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, and Oxford University, is intended to divert flooding away from homes, businesses, services, and major transport routes. However campaigners said that it will cause devastating ecological damage and is not value for money.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We are confident in our evidence as to why the scheme as presented is the best option for reducing flood risk in Oxford and welcome this independent process so that all sides have a fair hearing.”
Controversy surrounds the scheme’s effect on Hinksey Meadows, an area of grassland in North Hinksey which contains the nationally rare MG4a a grassland. This is the most bio-diverse floodplain meadow habitat of which there are only 4 square miles left in the country. Hinksey Meadows are of higher diversity value than nearby Pixie and Yarnton meadows that are protected by SSSI.
Chris Sugden is the convenor of Hinksey and Osney Environment Group which objected to the scheme’s impact on the meadows.
He said: "We’re very pleased it is going to an inquiry because that is what’s needed.
"Eighty per cent of the scheme is good. We’re not in opposition to the scheme itself but we’re saying this part of it is not necessary.
"These are grasslands that have never been ploughed in human history. If we’re talking about preserving and caring for the environment, it would mean protecting this grassland.
“People survive in Oxford because you can get out of the city quickly and go out walking by yourself or with a dog on fields like this and this scheme would wreck it completely.”
Nearly 5,000 people have signed a petition objecting to the scheme cutting through Hinksey Meadows.
The analysis of independent campaigners and experts is that Oxford desperately needs an effective flood scheme. But a destructive and ineffective three-mile flood channel through the rare Hinksey Meadows would wreck the local environment and could cause biodiversity collapse in Oxford’s wildlife corridor without adequately protecting properties from flooding.
The scheme, which has been submitted for approval to Oxfordshire County Council, would be one of the biggest flood schemes in the country if it is approved.
As part of the proceeding, an inspector, appointed by the planning inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State, will listen to every person who has made a remaining objection.
The planning inspectorate will also need to appoint a suitable inspector before dates can be arranged.
A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) is a legal process that allows land, property and rights of access to be acquired from a landowner where there is a compelling case that the land is needed in the public interest.
The CPO Public Inquiry is expected to be held later this year. It will be similar to a planning inquiry and run by the Planning Inspectorate. Once a date for the CPO Public Inquiry has been confirmed, this will be publicised on the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme website at https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/thames/ofas-updates/
Read Oxford Mail here
INTERPRETING THE DATA - Is there really no alternative to the channel?
Recently the Oxford Flood Alliance, (OFA), a group that supports the flood scheme, outlined why they support the channel and why they believe there is no alternative. They are a member of the sponsoring group for OFAS. "We make our views known to the EA in project meetings and have shaped aspects of the design and approach. We support the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme as proposed because we consider it the best option we have, given a whole range of competing factors." See here
We are very grateful and appreciate all the work that OFA have done over the years but we do not believe that the evidence presented by the EA has made a compelling case for the channel.
Like the members of OFA, we have been personally affected and have a horror of flooding.
The Oxford Flood and Environment Group seeks to examine the evidence and hold authority to account.
We fully understand the stress and disruption flooding causes. But we want a robust scheme based on reliable data that is future proof. We offer the fruits of our own analysis of the over 400 documents associated with OFAS and those of the independent expert hydrologists, engineers, plant community specialists, ecologists and eco-systems benefit specialists we have consulted and worked with
This is the biggest planning scheme and alteration to our landscape that will ever go before a planning committee in our lifetimes. There may not be a second chance to get it right. Climate change is a paramount consideration. The ecology of the area will take generations to recover. So we believe with so much at stake, there must be a rigorous interrogation of all aspects of the scheme.
Several independent experts dispute the T.I.N.A. interpretation that the channel is indispensable and question the analysis of the data around the channel while supporting 85% of the other measures proposed by OFAS.
Professor Riki Therivel is a leading sustainability consultant. She specialises in the environmental and social impact assessment of policies, plans and projects, and in resilience thinking.
"The Oxford Flood Alliance seems to have problems distinguishing between a (damaging, costly) flood alleviation channel and the many other measures that the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme would put in place. These include flood defences at Botley Road, Osney Mead, New Hinksey and South Hinksey; channel improvements on Seacourt Stream; and several new bridges.
It is true that, with absolutely no new measures in place, there would continue to be flooding at Duke Street, Earl Street and Marlborough Court as described by the Oxford Flood Alliance. However that is not what "no channel" means. If all of the measures EXCEPT the channel were put in place, there would be no additional flooding at all off the Botley Road until there was a 1-in-50 year event, i.e. the one event that most of us would see in our lifetimes.
To be factually correct, the Oxford Flood Alliance would need to reword its dire forecasts as:
In an event with a 20% chance of happening in a given year, the kind of event we might expect to see every 5 years, there would be no change on any of the roads off Botley Road without the channel.
In a 5% chance event (1 in 20 year flood), parts of the Oatlands Road playing field would flood if there was no channel. Flooding on Osney Island would be more extensive than with the channel, though some areas are affected even with the channel.
In a 2% chance event (1 in 50 year event) there would be more flooding on the Botley Road than without the channel. Duke and Earl Streets would get flooded with or without a channel. Much of Osney Mead would be flood even with a channel, but slightly more would be flooded if there was no channel.
In a 1% chance event (1 in 100 year event) most of Botley Road would be flooded with or without a channel, but there would be more flooding of the streets to the north of Botley Road without a channel.
It would be helpful if the Oxford Flood Alliance did not peddle unrealistic, dire forecasts, and instead considered whether digging an expensive channel through very sensitive ecosystems, with all of the associated traffic impacts on the A34, noise etc. is the best use of public money".
The comparison of performance of no excavation V the channel is available in Document Q. The analysis must be read with caution as any model is only as good as the data that is inputted.
A Visual Analysis of Appendix Q
Brian Durham, archeologist and former member of the Oxford Flood Alliance also questions the comparison on the basis that it is not a level playing field.
The EA's analysis of the scheme without the channel does not allow for lowered riverbeds at three proposed meadowland bridges. This would result in higher flood flow levels than would occur in reality.
Also the EA have admitted their modelling is unreliable at this scale. So Appendix Q is not a valid way to dismiss the effectiveness of the no channel proposal.
Our Assessment of the Channel
What we lose for very very little gain
Based on research and expert analysis the channel will not stop flooding and will cause irreplaceable losses
Low Benefit for High Expense
The channel offers 2.6% of the Flood Scheme’s alleviation (reduction of risk rather than guaranteed protection) at around 20% of the overall cost and at nearly 100% of the environmental damage done by the scheme. Most of the scheme’s work- around 85%- is done by the bunds (an embankment used to control the flow of water) and other localized protections. According to the EA’s own Appendix Q the difference in alleviation between having and not having the channel is marginal.
The channel is risky and experimental. The EA admits that it was unable fully to model the channel using existing computing resources in 2018 and that it has not succeeded in doing so since. Senior independent expert hydrologists point out that blockages in Oxford mean no channel possibly large enough to cope with climate crisis can be designed for Oxford. The channel proposed for Oxford will carry only 15% of flood water, and the environmental degradation is not worth it for such a small gain. Many other means, such as whole catchment planning, redesign of some key infrastructure such as bridges, and agricultural regeneration upstream would have greater effect.
Severe environmental loss and damage
Between their earlier and the current application, the EA were put under pressure to use the correct updated DEFRA metrics for calculating bio-diversity. The EA’s own results for the current application show bio-diversity LOSS for the scheme as a whole. It is important for West Oxford residents to know that (1): to fulfil the legally required 10% bio-diversity gain, much of the mitigation will be off-site. In its latest application, the EA promises to plant saplings and make wetlands in as yet unspecified other locations in Oxfordshire to make this ‘gain’. The creation of new wetland replaces a superior meadow biodiversity and existing habitat with an inferior one. (2) Saplings, IF maintained (and whether planted on site or at the places the EA intends to find somewhere in Oxfordshire), will still take several decades or longer to grow and will not equal the mature willows and other veteran trees of West Oxford (of which 2000+ will be destroyed by the scheme together with 5 kms of hedgerows). The existing West Oxford mature ecosystems for many birds, bats, insects, and fungi are lost for ever as the EA digs up some 700,000 tons of earth and gravel from West Oxford.
Drastic Alteration to the Landscape
The extent and duration of the changes is not easy to grasp: for instance the size of the scheme on 133 acres of greenbelt means that over 900 parcels of land in West Oxford are involved in Compulsory Purchase Orders for acquiring land, rights of access, and exchange land. Nor do the EA graphics of the planting plan after the area has been dug up reveal that it will take up to 30 years to or more to establish mature trees and their ecosystems. There are many failures in transparency in their public presentations of the scheme.
Loss of Access to Green Spaces
There will be restrictedaccess to the scheme area during construction (planned to take 3 years, but likely – think HS2- to take longer), and fields, trees and hedgerows for ever. The inferior developers’ go-to of wetlands (partly fenced off) is a poor and uncertain substitute. it also violates the mitigation hierarchy by replacing a unique landscape with a vastly inferior one.
There will be reduced access after the scheme (9ha – about 22 acres- less public space). (Some of the land the EA cites as mitigation is already available to the public, and Seacourt Nature Park will be almost entirely lost.
Loss of the Mona Lisa of Meadows
Hinksey Meadow, the nationally rare, thousand-year-old, bio-diversity jewel of Oxford floodplain meadows will be dug up in parts and severely compromised. There are 4 square miles of such MG4a grassland left in the whole UK. It has never been successfully translocated and the overwhelming majority of experts think it cannot be: the EA is expressing a pious hope rather than demonstrable performance in saying they will mitigate this loss. The grassland they claim to be able to create is MG4 not MG4a. (it would be much better to dig up Port Meadow with its lower bio-diversity than Hinksey Meadow, but West Oxford has been chosen for the scheme, not North Oxford). Though the EA say they will dig up only part of the Meadow, they risk altering the underlying hydrology and drying out the surviving parts of the Meadow.
Hinksey Meadow is also a key element in the patchwork of surviving wildflower floodmeadows: the Thames Valley has a quarter of the remaining such meadows in the UK. They are being picked off one by one under current developments. These meadows are important seedbanks for regenerative farming and an example of a system where agriculture and bio-diversity work together: grazing animals manure the fields and the fields produce healthier animals, lower vet bills and no fertilizer costs. Expert analysis has shown that Hinksey Meadow should be a major part of a nature recovery network of rare meadows in the West Oxford Floodplain. It is of higher ecological value than other nearby meadows protected by SSSI.
Massive impact on A34
Due to speed restrictions and road haulage on Oxford's main artery the A34 there will often be gridlocked. Although the EA promises to use some of the excavated gravel within the flood scheme, the EA will still have to truck hundreds of tons of gravel up onto the A34 to dispose of it. It has asked for a 40mph speed limit on the A34 during its working seasons, adding to existing congestion problems. South Hinksey residents will have the main working yard of the scheme abutting their back fences and become effectively a quarry site for the excavation.
The chance of a better scheme
West Oxford residents not only have their environment degraded but lose the chance for a scheme involving regenerative farming, improved infrastructure and whole catchment nature based solutions such as the EA is now advocating for other flood schemes. Much of the maintenance of the scheme will revert to land owners and there is no guarantee the new channel won’t silt up like the rest of the river system. The EA only has guaranteed maintenance funding for 10 years. The OFAS scheme is outdated and deeply ingrained in twentieth- century thinking about channels rather than twenty-first century thinking about climate breakdown.
Why is the EA and the consortium so insistent on the channel?
The Environment Agency always insists that the channel is an integral part of the scheme. Yet they provide no compelling evidence to show this. In the absence of anything more concrete, we can only speculate about why they take the "There is no alternative" position on the costly and experimental channel and don't engage with any alternatives or evidence to the contrary.
Like so many public bodies the EA has been brutally underfunded for years (it's lost an estimated 50% of its funding over the last decade), and big ticket schemes get financed more easily than for example the kind of maintenance needed to police sewage in our rivers.
Hundreds of tons of valuable Thames river gravel to use or sell in construction materials.
The EA's origins is as a river authority and some ecologists and experts think it has a strong adherence to promoting fisheries at the expense of terrestrial habitat even if the latter is of higher environmental value. According to a recent letter in the Oxford Times from Brian Durham, "A fishery is the obvious driver [for the channel], but the anglers say that stripping existing trees is unhelpful, losing shade for all fish and tree-roots for young fish to hide amongst."
The Support of the consortium
The University of Oxford has undertaken to fund and build its own bunds around Osney Mead to protect the employer and market housing it intends to build there. Splitting Osney Mead alleviation off means the EA can say that its part of the scheme does not promote development, something it is required not to do with a greenbelt scheme.
West Oxford is already earmarked for massive development as the "West End Quarter" Both Opens and Osney Mead will be developed and extend the city centre.
If the existence of the channel leads to more development in and around the floodplain, any marginal gains will soon be wiped out.
However, all this is speculation. In the absence of transparency from the EA and its partners we are left in a vacuum where the concerns of large segments of the active communities are ignored.
We all desperately want flood alleviation to protect our homes; but we should be clear about the cost: the largest ecological devastation ever seen in West Oxford, years of dug-up bare earth and some (lower bio-diversity) wetlands instead of the current irreplaceable eco-systems and meadow and riverine landscapes, in order to offer a marginally increased risk reduction to some 4 dozen houses and businesses.
Since the channel provokes the great bulk of objections to the scheme it holds up the scheme’s implementation by the need for public enquiries and for the EA to answer planning questions and modify its designs (as has happened over its multiple applications for the scheme).
We can have c. 85%-90% of the scheme’s alleviation without the channel.
As residents subject to flooding, we say YES to the scheme, NO to the channel.
Support the Public Inquiry Crowdfunder
Crowd Funder to Raise funds to pay for lawyers at the Public Inquiry - A Public Appeal from Canon Christopher Sugden
"Thank you for your interest and support to save the Hinksey Meadows from the proposed OFAS flood channel.
I am writing as the trustee of Ferry Hinksey Trust which owns a 10 acre field in the Hinksey Meadows. The field is currently leased to the 4th Oxford Scouts who have recently been made homeless.
The Ferry Hinksey Trust and others have been served with Compulsory Purchase Orders to enable the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme to drive a wide and deep channel through these meadows.
These CPOs have been resisted, because our team of experts in the Hinksey and Osney Environment Group have shown that the proposed channel which would cost 20% of the £176 million scheme only provides 2% of the flood protection and would destroy these Mona Lisa of meadows for ever.
We have been able to secure a public enquiry later in the year. It will cost £50,000 to have vital legal representation at the enquiry. The Trust can put in £5000+ towards these costs. A crowdfunding site has been launched and £915 has been raised in two days. If we win at the enquiry our costs will be repaid and we can refund donations.
Please would you consider making a donation through the crowdfunding site. If 440 further people give £100 each the target will be reached. Please also forward this to others who care for the environment around Oxford."
Follow the link below
Letter to the Oxford Times 27 July 2023
Brian Durham on why we need a re-think on the channel.
Protecting Oxford’s flood plains
The Environment Agency and partners propose a flood alleviation scheme for Oxford including an experimental 3.5km-long excavation into natural meadowland.
The applicant’s drawings tabulate 1800 spot heights showing that the bed of the proposed channel is pretty much the same as the existing channels, it is the meadow alongside that is being lowered.
So why? The EA assure us the excavation is not for volume compensation; also a `no channel’ alternative gives equal or lower flood levels where they compare like-for-like; and in habitat-creation the excavation performs worse than what we have now. A fishery is the obvious driver, but the anglers say that stripping existing trees is unhelpful, losing shade for all fish and tree-roots for young fish to hide amongst.
In parallel, the scheme will be building two road bridges where its own consulting engineer says that one bridge would be `much more elegant’; it directs nearly one third of the Thames flood flow against the side of the main line railway that was not necessarily built for this; and it degrades its own performance by putting an embankment round ten hectares of useful flood storage in New Hinksey.
The obvious way forward is for the November Public Inquiry to permit the scheme but:
Replace the 400 thousand cubic metres excavation with a corridor that uses only electric fencing to avoid trapping flotsam, OR pumped pipeline;
Require a single road bridge, saving three years in construction;
Require a flood viaduct at the railway, protecting residential Kennington, Kennington Ponds and the railway itself;
Require a low wall along the Abingdon Road to protect 10ha of flood plain.
Otherwise the Scheme is spending flood budget on degrading national infrastructure, money that could benefit flood risk communities elsewhere in the country.
But common sense does not always get a hearing at public inquiry, so the Hinksey and Osney Environment Group (HOEG) and partners are mounting a crowd-funding appeal to have legal representation, and readers can donate here ( https://gofund.me/c8aa1297 ).
"Extinguishment" of ancient rights of way across West Oxford's floodplain to be considered at the Public Inquiry
proposals are not fit for purpose and infringe on our rights
The Secretary of State has ordered an inquiry into the proposals to changes to public rights of way as part of the compulsory purchase order procedures. We are concerned about the lack of consultation, the lack of transparency and the poor communication of suitable alternatives. We also object to losing these much loved byways with no real explanation of why they need to go. There is no clear explanation of how the alternatives will be provided.
The four 'Acquisition Extinguishment Orders' applied for by the EA under the Acquisition Land Act 1081 and Highways Act 1980 are all clearly stated as being part of the OFA Scheme.
They refer to the closure and replacement access for these footpaths: FP 320/18 S/E of Weirs Lane FP 320/16
Hinksey Causeway FP 352/1
Devils Backbone FP 352/3
S. Hinksey to Abingdon Rd,
plus one more from S. Hinksey to Old Abingdon Rd announced in Oxfrd Times 11/05/23.
The notices state that the EA '...is satisfied that a suitable alternate Right of Way will be provided overland' as specified in each order. But there is no detail:
We objected for procedural and substantive reasons:
- Poor consultation with public including poor display of notices
- Having to respond by post in an age of online communications
- No clear rationale or explanation of the necessity for the abrogation of these rights
- No proper explanation of alternatives, such as a timescale or guaranteed commitment
THESE ARE MUCH LOVED AND ANCIENT RIGHTS OF WAY. THERE NEEDS TO BE CLARITY ABOUT THE PURPOSE AND PROCESS OF REMOVALS AND REPLACEMENTS.
Public Meeting - Oxford Needs a Better Flood Scheme
Thanks to everyone who attended our meeting at the Oxford Town Hall April 17th. We had a packed hall and many joined up on line to hear presentations on different concerns about the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme.
Independent experts and recently the planning authorities have raised many questions about the hydraulic and engineering modelling, efficacy, and benefits of the scheme (especially the low cost-benefit ratio of the large-scale experimental 5k channel, the environmental damage to West Oxford's green corridor and the lack of robust testing of the model). This may be the last chance to object against the scheme and ways of improving it before the scheme goes to the planning authority for decision. We and generations after us will have to live with what may be will the most momentous planning decision ever taken in Oxford.
It's very important that we have a flood scheme, but we need the best and most appropriate one possible.
THERE IS STILL TIME TO RESPOND TO THE PLANNING APPLICATION FOR THE OXFORD FLOOD ALLEVIATION SCHEME
YOU CAN OBJECT AGAIN TO THIS NEW ROUND OF CONSULTATION EVEN IF YOU ALREADY HAVE PREVIOUSLY
Say clearly whether you support or object
OR THAT YOU SUPORT A FLOOD SCHEME BUT OBJECT TO THE CHANNEL
SAY YOU WANT ANSWERS TO THE FLOOD FLOW AND MODELLING FLAWS WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN PROPERLY ADDRESSED BY THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY
You can respond with just a few lines of comments. But please don't cut and paste!
- loss of the irreplaceable Hinksey Meadows and inadequate mitigation
- flawed hydrological modelling
- not future proof against climate change
- loss of amenity, increased pollution and traffic
We are delighted to say that the painting of Hinksey Meadow by renowned environmental artist Elaine Kazimierczuk Hinksey Meadow has raised thousands of pounds to continue the campaign. Elaine ('one to watch - and one to buy', Saatchi's) generously donated the painting to help save the Meadow.
Letter to Oxford Times 4 April 2023
We were delighted to read your article in the OM 31 March 2023 about Oxford’s Flood Alleviation Scheme that cites the petition to Save Hinksey Meadows from the destructive channel element of the scheme.
In contrast, your article states the claim that “A new stream could be created through the meadows.’’ This is highly misleading when the reality would involve digging out 3 acres (the equivalent of 3 football pitches) of ancient meadow and gravel from the nationally important, ecologically rich floodplain.
While 85% of the scheme including bunds and earthworks is to be welcomed, the artificial, experimental channel is the most costly, least effective and most environmentally destructive part of the flood scheme.
The channel through Hinksey Meadow does little to move floodwater away from Oxford. Instead, in theory it allows more floodwater storage in the area between those two roads, before eventual discharge south of Old Abingdon Rd. In some places the channel would be as wide as 250 metres.
In practice, this is an inefficient way of moving water. Downstream of the meadows, the design would create flood backup as a result of obstruction by the proposed bridge decks at Old Abingdon Road T-junction, and by omission of a modern viaduct at the railway in Kennington.
South of Hinksey Meadow, the channel would become in effect a shallow ditch only filled with water at peak flood time. It is dependent on proper maintenance, so it is not silted up and colonised with Himalayan Balsam.The formation of the new experimental channel could empty the old ones - Hinksey, Bulstake and Seacourt Streams - potentially creating swamps and impacting the ecology here.
Overall, creating the channel would require losing 700,000 tons of soil and gravel and 133 acres of greenbelt that has stored carbon for a thousand years. Along with thousands of trees, miles of hedgerow and most of Willow Walk for a runway style bridge.
It would be inaccurate to call this a “stream”. There will be a public meeting at Oxford Town Hall 17th April 7pm about OFAS and its impacts.
RESPOND TO THE PLANNING APPLICATION FOR THE OXFORD FLOOD ALLEVIATION SCHEME
Say clearly whether you support or object
OR THAT YOU SUPORT A FLOOD SCHEME BUT OBJECT TO THE CHANNEL - you can still comment even if you have before
You can respond with just a few lines of comments. But please don't cut and paste!
- loss of the irreplaceable Hinksey Meadows
- flawed hydrological modelling
- not future proof against climate change
- loss of amenity
JUST A FEW SHORT WEEKS TO COMMENT!
Objections will be accepted up to the planning meeting but there isn't much time!
The Oxford Flood Alleviation will dramatically alter the local landscape and cost £176 million pounds after 4 years of pollution and upheaval. But as we face climate catastrophe, will a newly constructed channel - a lowered flood plain and a newly created stream - really save our homes, roads and neighbourhoods from flooding?
Including some points of information in response to issues raised by partners in the scheme, the Oxford Flood Alliance
ABOUT THE OXFORD FLOOD AND ENVIRONMENT GROUP
We aim to find answers through a research and evidence based approach, seeking information and knowledge from experts in the field, and those with specialist knowledge and experience.
We represent a wide range of views on our website and inclusion does not imply endorsement. We wish to stimulate debate and discussion. There are no easy answers to balancing flood prevention and dramatic flood risks in an age of climate change. But we believe transparency, research and an evidence based approach offers the best hope of finding solutions to complex problems.
Our inaugural meeting was held on 19th November in West Oxford Community Centre.
Here's a report from BBC SOUTH.
Please get in touch or leave your contact details by subscribing to our website or leaving a message on chat.
We aim to create awareness of different approaches to sustainable flood prevention that works in harmony with the environment. So stay in touch!
Further information on commenting on the OFAS planning application and Compulsory Purchase Orders
A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) allows an organisation to force people to sell their land to the organisation. Because CPOs are so drastic, removing people’s rights to their own land, objections to a CPO often go to public inquiry. Land owners’ objections carry more weight, but other users of the land, for example recreational users, can also object.
Normally, organisations serve CPOs only after they have received planning permission. However the Environment Agency has already served CPOs for the flood alleviation scheme, including for Hinksey Meadow and nearby fields, one owned by the Ferry Hinksey Trust and leased to the Scouts, Seacourt Nature Park, and the fields along the Electric Avenue from Osney Mead to South Hinksey.
If you use any CPO land, please send comments to FloodsCasework@defra.gov.uk by 2 April (though they may well accept comments after that, so do write in regardless). Your comments should state the title of the order “Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme: compulsory purchase order 2023”, the grounds for objection, your address, and your interest in the land (e.g. dog walking).
LISTENING TO ALL THE STAKEHOLDERS IN OUR COMMUNITY
We are a group of local residents and stakeholders who have come together because we want to find the best balance between saving our homes from flooding and protecting our environment in a climate emergency. We want the best solution not just for today but for future generations.
The West Oxford Floodplain is a unique landscape to the west of the iconic city bounded by Willow Walk and the Devil's Backbone. The current proposal potentially affects rare grassland of MG4a grasses, creeping marsh wort and fritillary and a historic network of pasture, braided streams and flourishing habitats of thousands of willow trees and hedgerows. It is home to kingfisher, heron and otter as well as dragonflies and bats.
Yet we are also keenly aware of the risks and misery of flooding and the difficult job facing those responsible for prevention.
We want to explore every possible solution to preserve our unique heritage while protecting our homes from dramatically increased flood risks.
This is an open, independent forum that seeks to present a wide range of views, information and analysis in the interest of transparency.
Join us on the journey!
GUIDE TO OUR FIRST PUBLIC MEETING - THE OXFORD FLOOD ALLEVIATION SCHEME - WILL IT WORK?
Edited versions of expert presentations and questions to the panel. Is a constructed channel and lowered flood plain a 20th century solution for a 21st century problem?
Thanks to our panel for their research and stimulating contributions.
List of Speakers
The latest thinking on flooding and biodiversity. Plus independent analysis of the proposed scheme.
Dr Louise Slater - Associate Professor in Physical Geography, University of Oxford. Expert on flooding, hydrology and climate change.
Riki Therivel - Visiting Professor, School of the Built Environment, Oxford Brookes University and partner Levitt-Therivel, Sustainability Consultants.
Caroline Midgely - International economic consultant and analyst.
Dr Rod Chalk - Head of Mass Spectrometry at Structural Genomics Consortium and campaigner for an alternative flood alleviation scheme.
David Ramsbottom - Technical Director HR Wallingford. Consultancy and research on all aspects of flood defence management, hydrological modelling and impact of climate change on flood risk.
The Key Questions
How do we balance our responsibilities towards people and planet and save our homes and neighbourhood from flood misery?
- Does the scheme reflect current research
and the cutting edge of flood management as we deal with the extreme weather of the climate crisis?
- Can we afford to lose thousands of trees, hectares of unique meadowland and miles of hedgerows that may take 100 years to replace as we face mass extinction and biodiversity loss?
- Is it responsive enough to deal with a dramatically increased risk of flooding due to climate change? What about balancing risks of drought?
- What are the alternatives? Is it value for money? What is the carbon cost?
- Will it really save our homes from flooding?
- How do we give nature a voice as we balance the risks between people and planet?
Have Your Say
Please get in touch. We hope to encourage dialogue and debate about the key issues of balancing protection from flooding with respect for the environment. We recognise that these issues are complex and increasingly facing communities as we deal with adaptation to climate change. We wish to see open conversations and transparency to involve all stakeholders as we face major challenges that threaten our communities and environment.
Use the contact and subscribe forms further down the page.
Nature and Biodiversity in a historic Flood Plain
Our unique ecosystem
The West Oxford Flood Plain is a unique landscape that is rich in biodiversity and historical associations. It has been painted by Turner and celebrated by Ruskin, Matthew Arnold and Oscar Wilde. Hinksey Meadow has grassland that is among the rarest in the UK. Learn more about what is at stake.
Links and information
Links to a range of resources on flood management, biodiversity, the Oxford Alleviation Scheme and more.
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