The Economic Assessment

Is the Channel worth it?

Dr. Caroline Midgley is an international economic consultant and analyst. She has assessed the economic costs and consequences of the plans.

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Breakdown of Costs

"I reviewed the economic analysis that was done by the Environment Agency back in 2018. And thanks to Tim King, who got the breakdown of the costs and benefits of the scheme, I'm able to present these figures. Dr King is a member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).  So, Tim's view is that we need to look at the scheme in terms of its component elements. When you do this, you can see that some parts of the scheme produce a very large benefits for relatively little cost. But other components of the scheme produce a more modest benefit for proportionately larger cost.

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So, what we've done is we've broken down the scheme into these 13 different elements. And we've ranked each of those elements according to the benefits that they generate. So, at the top of the table, we've got the resolving of the pinch point at old Abington road with a bridge and culvert system that contributes almost 20% of the overall benefit of the scheme, which is great. It only costs 12 million pounds to do that and gives us a benefit cost ratio of 2.3 which offers great value for the scheme.

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Three Key Elements

And it's interesting to see that just three elements of the scheme have quite a disproportionate beneficial effect. These three elements are: the resolving of the pinch points at Old Abingdon Bridge road, the Botley Tumbling Bay works and the widening of willow walk bridge -  these three elements produce a large amount of benefits, 40% of the overall scheme for a cost of just 20 million pounds. So these are very valuable parts of the scheme. 
Indeed, the eight most cost-effective elements of the scheme actually deliver 86% of the benefits for 60% of the cost, whereas the least cost effective five parts of the scheme, they deliver just 24% of the benefits for 40% of the cost.

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Is it worth it?

The channel is the most controversial element of the scheme, it causes by far the greatest environmental damage. It's the basis of all of the objections to the planning application and the compulsory purchases, and yet the channel generates just under 5% of the benefits for just over a quarter of the cost of the scheme. So, I think this is why we're asking the Environment Agency to take another look at the scheme and in particular, to reconsider the option of the channel because it represents poor value for money. The question posed by one of the previous speakers was whether the channel is worth it? The economics suggests that it is not.

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“The channel generates just under 5% of the benefits for just over a quarter of the cost of the scheme. Is the channel worth it? The economics suggests that it is not.

Caroline Midgely