Oxford and Abingdon Flood Alleviation Schemes

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

What is the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme?

The Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme aims to reduce flooding to all homes and businesses currently at risk in Oxford, as well as protecting major transport routes into the city.

In 2009 the Environment Agency published the Oxford Flood Risk Management Strategy, a detailed study of the flood risk from rivers in Oxford. The strategy described how to manage flood risk in Oxford over the next 100 years. Since the January 2014 floods, the Environment Agency has been working with partners including Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, Thames Water, the University of Oxford and the Oxford Flood Alliance, to develop a scheme in line with this strategy, to reduce flood risk to residents and businesses in Oxford.

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The Environment Agency carried out investigations into the flood risk and possible options to alleviate this risk. In January 2016 a public consultation received over 300 responses, enabling the Environment Agency to understand the public’s preferred option. They used feedback from the consultation along with technical investigations, to help develop the route of the scheme.

Since then, the project team has been working with landowners, partners and environmental stakeholders to refine this route. An image of the final route can be seen below.

Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme - Areas

How will the scheme work?

The scheme runs from north of Botley Road down to Munday’s Bridge. The scheme will include lowering parts of the floodplain and widening some of the rivers and streams that run through it, to create more space for floodwater and reduce flood risk to the city. The scheme will work by diverting floodwater across the open flood plain and away from properties which currently flood.

What are the next steps?

The outline design has been completed, which involved the fundamental engineering behind the scheme. The team are now working on the detailed design. The team will share the current design and updated route at a series of public events in May 2017, which will be followed by a second public consultation between 22 June – 20 July 2017, where local communities will be able to give their feedback on the scheme.

The scheme has funding from central government, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, and local councils, but needs further contributions to enable construction. The Environment Agency continue to work with partners to find the remaining funding. They are also working on arrangements for removing and reusing construction materials, as well as looking at how the channel will be maintained after construction.

There are various approvals the Environment Agency must go through, including getting planning permission, before construction can begin. Provided the scheme is fully approved and funded, the earliest work will start on the channel is late 2018. Construction is expected to take around 3 years.

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: www.gov.uk/government/collections/reducing-flood-risk-in-oxford-and-abingdon
Twitter: Follow @OxfordFAS

What are the Abingdon Flood Schemes?

The Environment Agency is working with Vale of White Horse District Council on two schemes to reduce flood risk in Abingdon. Together these projects will reduce the flood risk to around 400 residential homes and 20 commercial properties adjacent to the River Ock.

By constructing a small flood defence wall at St Helen’s Mill, the Environment Agency will reduce flood risk to 5 ground-floor properties and a block of flats adjacent to the River Ock. The project team is currently working on the detailed design.

A separate project is investigating wider flood risk in Abingdon. The preferred option at present is to build a flood storage area. This will take flood water from the River Ock and tributaries upstream of Abingdon. At this stage the team are finalising models, speaking to landowners and carrying out economic appraisal before completing an outline design. In addition to this, the team is investigating the use of natural flood management techniques in the River Ock catchment. This project aims to provide additional benefits such as improving wildlife habitat and increasing the variety of flora and fauna. This is a longer-term scheme and if it is found to be viable, construction will start around 2018 to 2019.

The estimated cost for the appraisal, design and construction of the two schemes in Abingdon is over £5 million. Funding will come from central government and Vale of White Horse District Council. The St Helen’s Mill scheme is fully funded from these sources, but additional third-party funding may be required for the proposed flood storage area on the River Ock.

What happens next?

The project team completed the detailed design at the end of 2016. Construction of the St Helen’s Mill scheme should be complete by July 2017.

Additional details of the River Ock upstream storage project will be confirmed shortly, once the modelling and economic assessments are complete. The project team will be planning some public engagement around the options and outline design.

How you can get involved

The project team is working closely with the St Helen’s Mill residents and send out a regular email newsletter to the local community. If you would like to receive these, please email oxfordscheme@environment-agency.gov.uk.