Plans to reduce the risk of the River Thames flooding the city of Oxford have been lodged by the Environment Agency. The scheme is believed to be one of the largest flood schemes planned in England at this moment in time.
It is anticipated that following the natural floodplain to the west of Oxford will bring a new stream following a winding course through the sloping floodplains of meadows. The scheme will therefore create approximately 20 hectares of new wetland habitat together with 16 hectares of flood plain meadow.
This is designed to work when water in the River Thames is high, the stream will begin to fill the floodplain and reduce the risk of flooding to built-up areas.
The Environment Agency confirmed that hard engineering will be kept to a minimum apart from new structures when needed to create bridges for footpaths to cross the new stream, tunnels to enable floodwater to pass under main roads and earth embankments and flood walls.
Approximately 5km long, the new stream will run from north of Botley Road to the south of the A423 near Kennington where it then rejoins the River Thames. The majority of this area is farmland and flood meadow.
The planning application has been submitted to Oxfordshire County Council, one of the partners to the scheme. Additional partners are Oxford City Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Thames Water, Thames Regional Flood Coastal Committee, Oxford Flood Alliance, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Oxford and National Highways.
The flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, Joanne Emberson Wines said: “This proposed Oxford flood alleviation scheme will reduce flood risk to all properties in Oxford which are currently at risk of flooding from the River Thames. This is a long term solution to help the city adapt to the changing climate”.
“Designed with the intention of bringing community and environmental improvements to the area, the scheme will create a new wetland landscape to benefit not only wildlife but local people. Submitting this application is seen as a significant step in making this a reality for communities around Oxford”.