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.

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

The Environment Agency and partners are dedicated to bringing the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme to the city. Designed to help protect Oxford from flooding for many decades to come, they’re ensuring the scheme will be built in the most efficient and effective way possible.

The scheme will carry floodwater away from built-up areas and under the A423 Kennington railway bridge to re-join the River Thames. Last year Oxfordshire County Council found the Kennington railway bridge needed to be replaced, due to deterioration in its structure. The Environment Agency been working closely together with the council to coordinate both projects. Replacing the bridge provides a new opportunity for it to be designed for its role in the flood scheme.

Image of A423 Kennington Railway Bridge

Building the flood scheme and the replacement bridge at the same time will ensure best use of public money and minimise any disruption. Once Oxfordshire County council confirm timescales for the design and construction of the bridge, the Environment Agency will have revised construction dates for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme.

Recent flooding


River levels in Oxford were high during November and December. Staff at the Environment Agency have been continuously monitoring these conditions and reviewing whether temporary defences need to be put up. Operational staff have been visiting affected areas, carrying out inspections and clearing debris where needed.

Well tested flood protection plans are in place for Oxford. These include temporary flood defences in Osney, South Hinksey, and along Abingdon Road and Vicarage Lane, and pumps to remove flood water on the Botley Road.

Know how to Prepare. Act. Survive.


There are some simple things you can do to prepare for flooding. Knowing what to do in a flood could help keep you and your family safe, and save you thousands of pounds in damages and disruption.

To find out if you are at risk and for more information visit the “what to do in a flood” page on GOV.UK.

Flooding to homes – facts and figures

  • The worst flood to hit Oxford in living memory was in 1947. Severe floods have since occurred in 2007 and 2013/14.
  • The average cost of flood damage to a home is £30,000.
  • Floods in Oxford are slow to arrive and slow to leave. Properties can remain flooded for days or weeks.
  • If you are flooded, you are likely to be out of your home for an average of 5 months.

Driving through flood water – facts and figures

Just 30cm of moving water can float an average family-sized car – it’s even less for smaller cars.

  • Driving through flood water is the number one cause of death during flooding.
  • Over three-quarters of cars that are rescued from flood water have to be written off.
  • Just one egg-cupful of water sucked into your engine will wreck it.

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
Previous newsletters: June 2016, December 2016, April 2017, August 2017, November 2017, March 2018, December 2018, January 2019, January 2020.