ELECTION CANDIDATES VIEWS ON OFAS
Candidates for Parish and District Council elections (and Layla Moran MP) were asked to let us know their view of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme and what they would do about it if elected
What is your view of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme and what you would do about it if elected?
Below are the responses we received from individually emailing all prospective District Councillors, asking them for their views on the proposed Oxford Flood Alleviation Channel (OFAS). Thank you to people who responded. We assume that, where people have not responded, this means that they do not think that OFAS is an important issue.
Debby Hallett (Lib Dem)
The suitability of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme is a massive issue, about which people hold strong opinions.
First off, it's not Vale that will be voting on this; rather it is a planning committee at Oxfordshire County Council who will decide. So no one from the Vale district council or any parish council will get a vote on it. I have been trying to find out an approximate time table for that decision, and first contacted the County Council cabinet member responsible; he said he didn’t know anything about it. (!) I then contacted officers, to be told there’s a tentative date of 5 June.
As a politician, my aim is to support the views of my residents. In this case, views are certainly split. I personally do not have the environmental, flooding, biodiversity, or any other expertise to form an opinion alone, so I rely on experts. But even THEY are divided.
Therefore, my main goal in all this, at the moment, is to do what I can to ensure decision makers have all the relevant information that they need to understand the main ramifications of this scheme, so that the decision they ultimately make will be an informed one. My opinion is that any lay person (meaning someone who doesn't understand for themselves the issues involved, such as me) who thinks they know more than all the various experts, is motivated by something other than seeing the best decision made. That's my personal point of view.
North Hinksey Parish Council originally objected in May 2022. South Hinksey Parish Council have recently objected. These views can be seen on their websites. Both are mainly against the deep channel, for the harm it causes and the cost. I can’t see that Kennington PC have expressed a view.
Some people are concerned that if we reject the current scheme, there will be no scheme at all, that something is better than nothing. I'm not sure I agree with that. Is it better to have a bad plan, one that damages the environment, costs lots of public money, and provides some benefit to some flood victims? Or, is it better to commit to no plan now, and re-think the approach to a flood alleviation scheme that will do better in terms of environment, efficacy and cost? I think most local people think this plan would be better without the deep channel, but it is very difficult to convince others to change their minds, and the EA seems determined to move forward with the deep channel. County councillors who sit on the planning committee, the people who’ll decide this planning application, may be more amenable to the electorate’s input and views. Activists may want to communicate directly with members of the County Planning Committee.
As to what I can and will do -- Vale officers, at my request, are organizing a meeting of EA reps, relevant Vale officers, and relevant members, to gather for a Q&A session about this project. All of the concerns that have crossed my desk are fair game for questions.
I'm happy to represent your views too. If you can send me any questions you have for them, I will see they are included.
Katherine Phillips (Green)
The Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme impacts on an area much loved and used by people in this and the adjoining wards including off road routes such as Willow Walk and the Monks Causeway and beautiful green spaces such as Hinksey Meadow.
Climate change will cause increasingly frequent, dangerous and extreme weather events. In this context we need to keep people safe, and protect their homes and businesses from the increasing risk of very severe flooding whilst also recognising the urgent need to protect the natural world from the harms caused by unnecessary and reckless development and to enhance it's resilience to climate change. I share many of the concerns raised about this complicated scheme in a very sensitive area and would use every possible opportunity to challenge the destructive elements of the current plan, examining whether they could be reduced, amended or (preferably) omitted. I would use our strong links with the administration at County Hall to push this in as high profile way as possible.
Emily Smith (Lib Dem)
The OFAS scheme is not something District or Parish Councillors will get to vote on. The scheme is being designed and delivered by the national Environment Agency, and the planning application currently on the table will be decided by Oxfordshire County Council.
I am not an engineer or ecologist; but the role of councillor is to consider the views of the technical experts, and to represent the views of residents to the decision makers. So, I will try to set out my current thinking on OFAS.
Climate change is leading to more extreme weather, and we will see more floods happening in the coming years. Each time Oxford and the Vale floods we in Botley and South Hinksey experience disruption to traffic and local business, homes and personal belonging are ruined. Not to mention the fact people have sadly lost their lives during local floods. There is a financial cost to the taxpayer when public services respond to flooding - and there is a climate cost to the emergency response and clean up. Therefore, my starting point is to welcome investment into our community to protect us from flooding.
Over recent years I have been to many meetings with individuals, parish councillors, the EA, Council officers, surgeries, etc to listen to residents and to pass on questions and concerns. The EA have made some changes because of collective lobbying but, as I spelt out in my formal response to the planning application, there are still many outstanding issues with the scheme currently being considered by the County council. Impact on biodiversity, traffic on the A34, noise and disruption during construction phase are the most common raised with me. These all need to be resolved through the planning process before the scheme should be given the go ahead.
More recently, additional evidence about the environmental impact of the channel through Hinksey Meadow has been submitted to the County Council. This raises further questions about whether the environmental harm of the proposed scheme is worth the gain in terms of the level flood protection, so if re-elected, I would continue to listen to the experts both in favour and opposed to the scheme, those residents’ campaigning for changes to the scheme, and of course those residents who are directly impacted by flooding.
If there is a way to substitute the channel with alternative flood protection for homes and infrastructure in North Hinksey I would support that. I tend to favour solutions that are as natural and non-invasive as possible – so I am not sure solutions that involve pumps which require ongoing maintenance are the best approach.
Whether or not there are changes to the scheme before it goes before the County Planning Committee the important thing is that the decision makers, know all the facts and views of local people. To that end I would make representations based on the information I have gathered from the community, and play my part in ensuring the committee are well informed before making a decision – both on the current application and the expected additional application covering the use of rail (rather than road) to remove soil from the site if the channel goes ahead.
If planning is not granted, I would seek to engage with the EA to ensure our local concerns are considered as part of a redesign. If planning is granted, I would also want to work with the EA to push for as much mitigation as possible and help ensure good lines of communication between residents and the contractors during the construction of the scheme.
In short, I support national government investment into a flood scheme to protect local people, homes, and infrastructure. But, there are clearly significant problems with the scheme on the table which need to be addressed before any planning permission is granted – biodiversity impact at Hinksey meadow, traffic and pollution during the construction phase being the most concerning.
District councillors do not get a vote on this. So, if re-elected, I would continue to raise residents’ concerns throughout the planning process to help ensure members of the planning committee understand all the implications of the scheme before making a decision. I would also help keep local people informed of opportunities to engage directly with the County Council.
If this or an amended scheme is given the go ahead I would do what I can to ensure good lines of communication between the community, the Environment Agency and their contractors so that problems arising during construction can addressed promptly.
Alexander and Elina Turner (Conservatives) – no response
Nekisa Gholami Babaahmady – no response
Jamie Spooner – in the process of drafting a response
Below are statements made by prospective Parish Councillors about the OFAS on Facebook, in The Sprout, or emailed to us.
My view is that I support 85 % of the flood alleviation scheme but object to the 2-stage flood channel. Modelling shows that this adds little benefit to the water carrying capacity already present in the natural flood plain and that it provides protection for only an additional 50 households. The cost, disruption and permanent environmental damage is not worth these minimal benefits. I support a flood scheme minus the channel, or better still a more effective solution such as a pumped pipeline which takes proper account of climate change and has none of the catastrophic environmental effects of the channel. If elected I will press for this.
Doing nothing cannot be an option. People's homes have flooded and we've had Botley Rd closed by flooding in 2007 and 2013 (?}. The consultations have been going on since about 2015 and I have attended a lot of meetings with the Environment Agency and others. The design has improved but there are still problems. The current Parish Council has objected to the current plans. Ultimately until a clear final plan is put on the table it is impossible to have an absolute position though I recognise that some landowners have very strong views.
I am opposed to the 2 channel element of the Flood Alleviation scheme because it will have an irreversible and damaging impact on the environment, rare habitats and wildlife, for unproven and limited benefit.
The destruction of 2 hectares of the rare grassland of Hinksey Meadows can in no way be compensated by offsite mitigation. The loss of 2,000 trees and the transportation of 700,000 tons of displaced soil in what aspires to be a carbon free city is wholly unacceptable.
This part of the scheme is too costly, environmentally destructive and has unproven benefits.There needs to be a public enquiry and the EA need to rethink their strategy.
I have long opposed the building on flood plain, most recently the Seacourt Park and Rise extension and work to preserve our precious Green Spaces and rare habitats as Chair of the Oxfordshire Badger Group.
Given that we are going to have more flooding and sea level could rise by one metre I'm in favour of building as much climate change resilience as possible - however I don't know the proposal in any detail and would want to be sure that any measures are not imposed on us in the same high handed holier than thou manner we got the LTNs.
The significant direct/indirect impacts to the habitat at Hinksey Meadow from the Western Channel are of concern. Lack of clear evidence for the two channel scheme and alternative proposals. Significant loss to the environment (estimated at 2000 trees, mature woodland and the rest). There is concern that the removal of spoil by lorry is unworkable (a lorry every 3 minutes, 40 mph speed limit on the A34, already a pollution hotspot for nitrogen oxides).
Would always work to support resident's views. Supportive of alleviation in principle. Access to and enjoyment of green spaces are one of the reasons many people choose to settle here. Seems a project at great cost both to the environment and financially.
There may be a need for some flood alleviation measures, but the use of a 2-stage new flood channel across Hinksey meadows is not one of them. Calculations show that it will have little extra carrying capacity beyond the flooding that normally takes place at times of high rainfall, and the wanton destruction of a valuable site of scientific interest cannot be justified, particularly when most of the area to be excavated will be dry for most of the year. Recent modifications to Willow Walk with enlarged culverts beneath it will help the flood waters to move downstream.
I am also impressed by the lack of general maintenance of the waterways, with reeds being allowed to grow freely in e.g. the Seacourt Stream. A little more spent on maintenance rather than a big capital scheme would produce much greater value for money.
There appears to have been little thought about measures upstream to slow the draining of water into the tributaries of the Thames, or to provide more areas around them for flood alleviation. Apparently only some 50 houses will be saved from flooding by the proposed measures, which suggests that other, cheaper, methods could be used to provide protection, saving tens or more of millions of pounds.
My view is that I support 85 % of the flood alleviation scheme but object to the 2-stage flood channel. Modelling shows that this adds little benefit to the water carrying capacity.
I don't believe that the secondary channel will do anything to increase water carrying capacity, at least in Hinksey Meadow. During moderate flooding, long before peoples' homes are affected, Hinksey Meadow is a waterway, 300 yards wide and maybe a foot deep in water which is moving extremely slowly downstream. Making parts of it two feet, or four feet, deep will do nothing to improve flow rate.
Martin Dowie, David Kay, Adam Rankin
The current parish council Planning Committee has objected to specific elements of the OFAS. Martin Dowie, David Kay and Adam Rankin are members of that Committee standing again in this election. Martin Dowie also opposes the OFAS in its current form in his election leaflet.
Member of Parliament (not up for election in May 2023)
Layla Moran MP (Lib Dem)
Below is Layla Moran MP’s May 2022 submission to the county council, still currently being used to state her views.
Flooding in Oxford West & Abingdon brings misery and disruption to many residents, so an effective flood alleviation scheme is critical for constituents and businesses.
Constituents do have serious concerns about the proposed scheme that I would like to bring to your attention for consideration as part of the consultation process.
Residents are very concerned that the scheme will impact negatively on, or destroy completely, Hinksey Meadow. The loss of 2,000 mature trees, established hedgerows, 100 hectares of agricultural land and 8 hectares of public space will have a serious impact on protected species such as badgers, otter, kingfisher and bats.
I am told that the proposal to transplant the rare MG4a grassland is problematic, with only approx. 25% of similar projects succeeding and that it may take up to 150 years for the majority of species to colonise the new meadow.
I understand that a number of alternative approaches have been suggested which could mitigate some of these problems. I hope that it will be demonstrated that these alternatives have been properly examined in line with the NPPF.
The current proposal includes a “new maintenance track (that) will allow our field teams access, this will also form a new permissive path in the scheme area for walking and cycling."
Residents highlight that this is a perfect opportunity to create a fully connected route between Old Abingdon Road and Willow Walk and ask whether this can be considered as part of the overall scheme. This would be in line with the County Council’s commitment to promote active travel.
South Hinksey Village
Whilst there are significant benefits for South Hinksey residents in terms of flood alleviation and protection, there are still a number of significant concerns about the construction phase of the project.
Local councillors have highlighted to me that the construction compound backs onto private gardens. They are concerned about noise pollution, light pollution from security lights and loss of privacy that will cause significant disruption that still needs further mitigation.
Impact on the A34
Residents tell me that the planning application has still not alleviated their concerns about the transportation of spoil.
The Environment Agency plans suggest that HGVs will move spoil from the construction compound onto the A34, about every 3 or 4 minutes. It is currently already difficult to filter onto the A34 from the village and, as there is no slip road at this junction with the A34, large, heavily-laden lorries will struggle to get up to speed to join the A34 traffic.
Any congestion at this pinchpoint of the ring road can have significant knock on effects on the wider Oxford highways network.
Local councillors and residents have asked for the option of the movement of spoil by rail to be fully pursued before plans are approved. This is in line with the County Council’s commitment to use more environmentally friendly forms of transport wherever possible.
Rights of Way
Serious concerns have been raised with me about the loss of the existing Rights of Way over adjoining fields. Given the County Council’s policy on promoting walking, I hope that this will be looked at and alternatives put in place that are at least as good.
Long term funding
Funding for ongoing maintenance of the scheme only appears to be budgeted for ten years. What will happen after this period? This needs to be clear.
Short Consultation period (7th April – 9th May)
Residents are concerned that a consultation period that runs over Easter of just 4 weeks is not enough time to allow people to read and understand the large number of documents within the consultation.
While it is clear that Oxford needs a flood alleviation scheme, and the current proposal meets many of the aims of the overall need, there is an opportunity to mitigate disruption to residents during construction, re-examine the impact on Hinksey Meadow and to create a valuable opportunity to increase active travel between Abingdon and Oxford.
Scenario 3 - an Alternative Proposal to the Channel
Letter Outlining an Alternative Proposal published in Oxford Times 21st April 2022
Full Text of letter from Chris Sugden of HOEG and Brian Durham - two long time campaigners for improvements to the scheme who understand it in great detail.
They propose the enhancement of existing watercourses and bridges to save Hinksey Meadow and floodplain trees, while easing constructed dams at Kennington T-Junction and the railway, and avoiding the need for an artificial 2nd- stage channel between Botley Road and Old Abingdon Road.
You recently published a good news letter from Cllr Tanner about Oxford’s proposed flood scheme (Oxford Times 7 April), and here is even better news.
Everyone knows that flooding is tricky and needs state of the art numerical modelling to predict what the water will do. In July 2020 the Hinksey and Osney Environment Group (HOEG) met the Environment Agency, and in December that year we were offered `a separate run’ of their model. We have sent them and the planning authority an outline specification for that extra run, now shared with two hydraulic engineers to ensure that it is `watertight’.
We are calling the new run `Scenario A3’, the good news being that it upgrades the existing streams (natural 1st-stage channels) in order to retain the beautiful and precious existing flood plain (a natural 2nd-stage channel).
Design elements include: matching flow capacities at one existing and three proposed bridges; a 50m-wide corridor free of `flotsam traps’; climate-change adaptation at the `Electric Road’ culvert; existing Railway Lakes to be linked as a 1st-stage channel; the long-awaited disabled ramp from the Devils Backbone up to the railway footbridge; beams for the proposed Old Abingdon Road bridging to be above the 100-year flood level; and best of all, helping Network Rail to comply with obligations set out in the Oxford Railway Act, which received the royal assent from Queen Victoria.
This is evolving towards a design that everyone can be pleased with.
Hurrah for Queen Victoria!
Chris Sugden - Hinksey and Osney Environment Group
Brian Durham's Analysis and Alternative Proposal
"The two alternative `scenarios’ in Appendix Q A1, with the channel removed from Hinksey Meadow and A2 with no stage 2 channel between Botley Road and Old Abingdon Walk are presented as performing worse hydraulically than the preferred scheme while losing all the same trees. But neither is necessarily true.
The worse performance is questionable, because EA have admitted that they could have included `sumps’( a pit or drain) under their proposed bridges at Willow Walk, NH Causeway and Devils Backbone but didn’t. They have clearly also modelled some flow enhancement downstream of Botley Bridge in their own preferred scenario but not in the alternative scenarios. The latter alone accounts for roughly 70% of the advantage they claim over scenario A2.
Re- trees, they say the smoothed section of flood plain is the same as the no-channel and would lose the same trees, but all they need is a 50m-wide corridor clear of conventional stock fencing so as not to trap flotsam - the mature trees could support the electric fencing.
On a level playing field therefore it is likely that the A2 performs better than the preferred version. If therefore we factor in: a 50m corridor free of flotsam traps; the linked Railway Lakes (crossed by the disabled ramp); bridge beams at T-junction installed above the 100-year flood level, and best of all, the new railway culvert, Scenario A3 should be a really useful flood scheme."
Additional Comments about A1 and A2 Modelling in Appendix Q
It's important to understand that any model will only reflect the data that is fed into it. If this changes then the readings will be different. Relying on models has its limits because of the complexities of hydrologies and the impact of small, random changes such as blockages or large ones such as development that happen in the real world cannot be factored in.
The modelling which the EA included for the first time the tall embankment and bund around Osney Mead (which limits the number of businesses at risk). It also included an expanded bridge across Willow Walk.
The way in which the water accumulates across the flood plain depends on where it falls in the catchment area. If the main rainfall is in the catchment of the Ray or the Cherwell, then it is unlikely to affect the Hinksey Flood Plain at all. It could be argued that if the water drains much more rapidly than before near Redbridge (a new railway culvert is already installed, the plans to improve water flow around the ancient monument at Redbridge, water flow in the new culverts beside the railway under the A423 railway bridge will improve, and so will the flow down the new channels at Kendall's Copse below Redbridge) it will accumulate much more slowly than before around South Hinksey. Together with the lack of accumulation at Willow Walk (better bridge) that will cause water to drain from Oxford rapidly instead of accumulating north of Willow Walk and north of Redbridge during a peak flood because the floodplain is full up.
One problem with the modelling is the length of time over which a peak flow occurs and the fact that this is not factored in. If you have a peak flow of 240 cubic metres a second over a couple of days that may not matter much, but a peak flow every day for three weeks deposits far more water in the flood plain. In the models both will be recorded as a 1/100 flood event. The former will be much less serious than the latter, but the latter is far less likely.
So the bottom line is that models need to be treated with caution, particularly if the difference between alternative scenarios is a matter of centimetres as this may enough of a margin for error.
How the A3 Proposal Can Work
What effect does the A3 proposal have on Seacourt park, Hinksey Meadows and Willow Walk ie stage 1? The section from Botley Bridge to the Seacourt nature park is the same as the EA scheme - it cannot be anything else if it is to get the extra water through by removing modern landfill. Thereafter it follows Seacourt Stream round the back (west) of the pylon with zero effect on Hinksey Meadow except for doubling width of the existing Seacourt Stream.
Do we still lose Seacourt Nature Reserve? Some of becomes part of the widened stream.
Is Hinksey Meadows compromised by losing MG4a grassland and having its hydrology affected? It saves Hinksey Meadows totally if you accept the circa-doubling the width of Seacourt Stream - the closer willows may need to be pollarded and moved 10m back to the new stream bank.
Are we still left with the ugly, outsized Willow Walk bridge and losing veteran willows? A more sensitive and site-specific design can be incorporated that doesn’t detract from the rural landscape. Like bridges at University Parks or Christchurch Meadows for example.
Will there still be a channel under Willow Walk and beyond to the Fishes? No continuous `channel’, a lowered bed under the bridge itself for what engineers call `increased flow capacity’, so a few metres either side of the bridge (the EA use the word `sump’). This could mean the bridges do not need to be exactly where EA put them, but the Willow Walk bridge should take out at least one of the existing pipe culverts.
How many trees and hedgerows will be lost? No trees lost, see pale blue tone for 50m-length of hedgerows.
Will there be much digging? Widening the existing streams, new channel from Hinksey Stream to Railway Lakes downstream of Hogacre Park (dotted line), new channel (matching the scheme) from downstream end of Railway Lakes to the T-junction. But this is much less than the proposed EA channel.
Is that the advantage that the second stage channel is also diminished as well as the first? The 2nd-stage is bad full stop. If we can also make the Hinksey Stream/Railway Lakes work, we can remove the 1st-stage (red) to maintain the integrity of Corpus Christi and City Council land for grazing and grass crop.
What does the work around the railway contribute? The railway is fantastic because it has become a dam, including the bypass, Kennington residential, and silting at Mundays Bridge (railway). The culvert at Kendall Copse resolves all that, as recognised by EA in 2015.
In conclusion does the A3 Scenario save Hinksey Meadows by scrapping the channel? It saves everything of Hinksey Meadow aside from the widening of Seacourt Stream. If we get the existing channels widened (blue route) we avoid the red 1st-stage channels.
DO WE WANT THIS?
Oxford Needs a Better Flood Scheme
The Environment Agency has put in a planning application for an Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme comprising flood walls, gates, bridges, culverts, and a giant 5k channel from the North of Botley Road to the South of Abingdon Road. The EA's own report shows the the channel is the most disruptive, costly and environmentally 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 £23 million and will cause:
240 HGV movements a day on the A34, 40 mph speed limit on sections of the A34, massive queues at Hinksey Hill
2,000+ trees, miles of hedgerow and much of the biodiversity net gain happens offsite
- 3 acres of rare MG4a grassland to be lost in Hinksey Meadow with the rest at grave risk due to changes in hydology
South Hinksey village to be surrounded by work compounds, traffic and haul roads
Loss of recreation to most of the fields between Botley Road and Old Abingdon Road and forever in some areas.
- The excavation of 455,000 cubic metres of soil and gravel and loss carbon sequestration
The scheme is intended to provide flood protection: the EA's own figures show the number of dwellings with a great 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 the reduction (54 properties), which could be protected by more environmentally 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 cost and impacts hasn't even been analysed by the EA, despite offering more flood protection both now and in the future.
Please comment on the planning application by May 9th.
OFAS Consultation Now Open
THE OXFORD FLOOD ALLEVIATION SCHEME PLANNING APPLICATION IS OPEN FOR COMMENTS 7TH APRIL - MAY 9TH
January 1, 2025
The Environment Agency has put in the new planning application to Oxfordshire County Council. We would urge everyone to make make a comment.
INITIAL RESPONSE FROM RIKI THERIVEL, PROFESSOR OF BUILT ENVIRONMENT OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY
3rd April 2022
Dr Riki Therivel, a leading expert on the environment and sustainability and a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University has analysed the new proposal and has expressed concerns about the impact of pollution, carbons emissions, vegetation loss and the lack of evidence that the costly channel is justified.
She has highlighted the loss of mature trees that apparently will not be replaced, particularly around Seacourt Stream and Willow Walk .
The scheme will rely heavily on maintenance, yet it is only budgeted for at most 15 years. Also, the economic justification for the channel doesn't appear to add up. "In economic terms, not having a channel (iBCR) makes much more sense than having one, and having no channel through Hinksey Meadow makes as much sense as the proposed scheme."
SERIOUS CONCERNS ABOUT THE CASE FOR THE CONTROVERSIAL CHANNEL
An initial assessment highlights some key concerns. Many of these relate to the creation of a new channel in two parts. This will be approximately 5km long, it will run from north of Botley Road down to south of the A423 southern by-pass where it re-joins the River Thames. Stage one of the flood channel will be "a natural river channel", which will always carry water diverted from other streams and stage two will be a sloping dry channel to take flood flow.
- This requires 258,000 cubic metres of soil and gravel extraction. What effect will this have on the existing hydrology of the flood plain, particularly the rare MG4a grassland of Hinksey Meadow?
- There will be a massive loss of trees, independent calculations estimate 4,000 mainly mature trees, miles of hedgerows and other vegetation. What will be the impact of the loss of "Oxford's green lung" and the loss of a major wildlife corridor?
Trees, particularly willows, are a major contributor to biodiversity, the root systems secure riverbanks and store water. Are the mitigation measures proposed by the Environment Agency enough? Could some of this massive loss be avoided? What about protected species such as bats, kingfisher and insects?
- The change of a grassland, pastural landscape of meadows and fields is to wetland. Can this really be considered a net biodiversity gain?
-It is estimated there will be 111 journeys of lorries carrying debris a day at the height of the gravel and soil extraction. What effect will the removal of so much embodied carbon have on the environment? What about pollution levels from trucks? Pollution is a bigger killer than covid.
- Why is the flood problem not being addressed further upstream where the floodwater originates? Is it the wrong way round to create massive upheaval in a floodplain with high levels of urbanisation around it, when the problem could be tackled further upstream? As eminent experts such as hydrological engineer, David Ramsbottom has commented regenerative farming, which has the potential to have massive impact because of the vast areas of land, needs to be part of the solution.
- Even though some of the figures have been updated, the scheme will by the Environment Agency's own acknowledgment, not keep pace with climate change. The origins of this scheme pre-date our increased knowledge about unpredictable weather patterns. Should there be a re-think to make the scheme more future proof?
How will the complex scheme work if maintenance is only planned for the next 15 years? A lot of the responsibility will devolve to the landowners but will they have the necessary expertise and resources?
- The application cannot take account of any new development on or near the floodplain. Yet Oxford is poised to become "greater Oxford" due to massive expansion of the city. Can the scheme be effective if there is more development with increased run-off, sewage and hard surfaces? Is it a sticking plaster that could become a waste of money?
Have your say make sure to comment on the planning application.