The Environment Agency are working together with the Vale of White Horse District Council, Oxfordshire County Council and the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee to find ways to reduce flooding in Abingdon. The Environment Agency are in the early stages of investigating an option to put a flood storage area at Abingdon Common. Work is continuing to progress a number of design options including a flood storage area, property level products and natural flood management measures.
The Rivers Ock, Thames, Stert and the Sandford Brook all contribute to flooding in Abingdon. In July 2007 over 400 residential properties and 20 commercial properties flooded internally. In 2017 the Environment Agency built a flood wall to reduce flood risk to St Helen’s Mill. They have temporary defences available to deploy in Potenger Way, Tower Close, Meadowside and Hermitage Road. They have also carried out modelling and surveying, and ground investigation work.
On 28 March residents were invited to attend a public drop-in at Abingdon Free Space. 62 people attended and fed back their thoughts and ideas on the potential options to reduce flooding in Abingdon. This included collecting views about a potential flood storage area at Abingdon common. The feedback that was received will be used to shape what needs to be taken into consideration in the design of the scheme.
A range of materials, including maps and graphics, were displayed at Abingdon Free space for one week following the event.
The Environment Agency are looking into a number of options all of which include a potential flood storage area at Abingdon Common with possible complementary measures such as natural flood management and property level resilience to further reduce flood risk.
The Environment Agency have been looking into the detail for the flood storage area. As the design progresses more accurate estimations of the likely cost to build and maintain the flood storage area are gained. They are also completing more detailed modelling work to determine how the flood storage area could operate here, focusing on how it would work during a flood and where the water would go.
The Environment Agency’s ecologists are hard at work carrying out surveys in and around Abingdon Common, this includes surveying for badgers, bats, otters, great crested newts, water voles, pea mussels and reptiles. This allows for the identification of any potential improvement which can feed into the design works, such as creating new habitat or improving existing habitat. It will also enable the work to be designed to avoid or mitigate for any potential impacts on these species.
The Environment Agency will not develop any option that would increase flood risk to properties outside the area being worked in. The work is to reduce flooding, not to transfer it from one community to another.
Natural flood management
The Environment Agency have been examining the most effective options to reduce flooding in Abingdon, and have found that the most effective approach would be to combine traditional engineered flood defences with Natural Flood Management measures. Natural Flood Management works by using natural techniques to hold back or slow down water and reduce flooding downstream. Examples include woody dams, replanting hedges to slow river flow and managing woodland to maintain soil porosity.
In order to develop the potential Natural Flood Management measures a project officer has been employed to look at the opportunities which could benefit Abingdon. This is still in the very early stages and it is not known whether this will be able to be progressed until further investigations have been done. The Environment Agency will be meeting landowners in potential areas to see what may be possible.
Property level resilience
Property level resilience is a way to reduce flood risk to individual properties. This is done by installing products such as flood doors, door barriers, automatically closing airbricks, non-return valves and sump pumps to reduce the amount of water getting inside the property.
Summer 2018 to 2019
- Continue to develop engineering and Natural Flood Management options
- Review the costs and funding available for the flood storage area
- Meet landowners to investigate opportunities for natural flood management.
- Aim to submit a planning application for submission.