Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme

The Environment Agency is working with its partners to reduce flood risk in Oxford.

What is the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme?

The Environment Agency is working with partners Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Thames Water, Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, Oxford Flood Alliance, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and University of Oxford on a scheme to reduce flood risk to homes and businesses in Oxford, as well as to services and major transport routes into the city.

Oxford has the second fastest-growing economy of all UK cities and the scheme will keep Oxford open for business and allow this successful economy to continue to thrive.

The scheme will involve lowering parts of the floodplain and working on some of the existing rivers and streams that run through it to make more space for water and reduce flood risk to the city. Some areas will have new flood walls and embankments.

As well as reducing flood risk, the scheme will create 5 hectares of new wildlife habitat and improve existing public footpaths and bridges, creating opportunities for everyone to enjoy the environment and improve health and wellbeing.

The Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme project team have been working on the scheme plans in preparation for submission of the planning application in late 2021. The project team are sharing the latest updates on the scheme, including: 

  • Benefits of the scheme 
  • Working in partnership on the A423 Bridge replacement 
  • Environmental enhancement and a long-term green legacy 
  • Delivering considerate construction 

A new Citizen Space website was launched to explain changes and developments to the scheme plans and there is the opportunity to submit questions about the scheme. Visit the new pages to find out more: consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/thames/oxfordscheme

Who will benefit from the scheme?

Oxford is home to around 5,300 businesses, provides 133,000 jobs and has approximately 7 million visitors every year. Everyone who lives, works in or visits the city will benefit from the reduced flood risk to the railway and the Botley and Abingdon roads. The scheme will reduce flood risk to homes and businesses to the south and west of the city. There will also be fewer flood related electricity, telephone and internet disruptions to homes and businesses. Over 80 properties will be less likely to experience sewer flooding.

The scheme is designed to reduce the impacts from a major flood. This size of flood has not been seen in Oxford since 1947. If the scheme had been in place during the floods of 2007 and 2013/14, the Abingdon Road, Botley Road and railway would all have remained open.

How will the scheme work?

The scheme 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.

Image of Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme

Oxford Scheme update

What’s coming up in 2021?

2020 wasn’t quite what anyone expected. It has been a trying time for all in different ways. Nonetheless, the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme project team have been working hard under Coronavirus restrictions to complete surveys and investigations. They’ve been working closely in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council to ensure that the new A423 Kennington Railway Bridge and the Oxford scheme are designed to work well together.

2021 is set to be an even busier year for the project team. The planning application was withdrawn last year to make changes to incorporate the new A423 bridge design. The focus will be on preparing information collected from environmental surveys and the design of the area around the bridge to submit a new planning application in late 2021.

Environmental collaboration

The Environment Agency have formed a new collaboration with the environmental charity Earth Trust. The team will be working with the Earth Trust on a plan for the long term environmental benefits of the scheme. The new stream with wetland wildlife corridor will create new habitat and link existing wildlife sites to the west of Oxford, bringing additional benefits to the local environment beyond reduced flood risk.

The collaboration with Earth Trust will help to plan how best to make the most of this unique opportunity – to ensure that the new landscape and habitats are carefully maintained for the lifetime of the scheme.

Once all the necessary approvals have been obtained and are nearing construction of the scheme, an external environmental partner will be appointed. This partner will be responsible for the habitat management and enhancement in the scheme area, as well as maintaining long term relationships with local communities. The work now will help ensure the best foundations for this approach, to secure a long term green legacy for generations to come.

Keeping you updated

As the Environment Agency prepare to submit a new planning application in late 2021, events would normally be held to update communities face to face. Due to coronavirus restrictions this is not currently possible, so in the spring information about the scheme will be shared online.

An update will be provided on the changes made to the scheme and the benefits these bring. Keep an eye on this webpage and social media for details.

Recent flooding

During the past two months, Oxfordshire and other parts of the country have experienced flooding. Working as part of the Thames Valley Resilience Forum, temporary flood barriers were deployed on South Street, Osney Island, in South Hinksey and at the Bulstake Stream to prevent water reaching homes. Additional temporary defences at Vicarage Lane and East Street, Osney Island were not required.

Emergency response partners ensured communities remained resilient to rising water levels. Officers were out daily supporting communities and checking water levels across the city. Operations staff worked to clear blockages and ensure flooding infrastructure was operating correctly.

Read more about the role of temporary barriers on the Environment Agency website.

Know your flood warnings!

It’s important to know what you need to do if your area is given a flood warning. Stay prepared by signing up to flood warnings and preparing a flood plan.

Want to know more?

More details on the scheme can be found in the Full Outline Business Case and Executive Summary.

This page will be updated as the scheme progresses. You can also keep up-to-date in the following ways:

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/oxfordscheme
GOV.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/oxford-flood-scheme/oxford-flood-scheme
Twitter: Follow @OxfordFAS
Email: OxfordScheme@environment-agency.gov.uk    

For current or previous editions of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme newsletter please contact OxfordScheme@environment-agency.gov.uk.