The Environment Agency has rebuffed alternative plans for an underground flood alleviation scheme in Oxford which is claimed to be a third cheaper than the Agency’s current proposal.
Local campaign group Hinksey and Osney Environment Group (HOEG) claims that its plan could save £50M compared to the Agency’s Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (Ofas) by using underground pipes to carry excess flood waters.
The cost of the Environment Agency’s 5km long flood alleviation channel has soared from £120M to £150M.
Stretching 5km from north of Botley Road to south of the A423 southern bypass near Kennington, the 60m wide Ofas channel would direct flood waters back to the river Thames. The Ofas also includes a mixture of hard defences including embankments and flood walls to protect high-risk properties.
HOEG’s alternative design would use underground pipes to direct excess waters. The group claims this will only cost £100M compared to the £150M Ofas. It will also keep local landscape intact.
However, Ofas project director Joanne Emberson-Wines rebuffed the claims.
“We have considered over 100 different options to reduce flood risk in Oxford, working with community every step of the way. The current proposals give better flood protection to all the homes and businesses currently at risk of flooding in Oxford whilst also delivering a true green legacy for the city through the creation of over 20 hectares of new habitat for local wildlife,” she said.
“We will continue to work with the local community and listen to any concerns raised.”
The campaign group’s alternative plans were drafted by engineer Jonathan Madden, who has suggested using a parallel pair of 2m pipes and a pumping station, instead of the open channel.
HOEG spokesperson Chris Sugden said the Ofas will “destroy 4,000 trees […] irrevocably damage the local environment which will not recover for a century [and] devastate the trade of Oxford”.
“Everyone wants a viable flood alleviation scheme for Oxford but the Ofas plan is not it,” he said. “The three-year building works will devastate the trade of Oxford’s minor and major hotels, restaurants, tour organisers, Westgate Centre shops and major businesses that depend on bus and other vehicular access and put them at risk of closure.”
The one-year long public consultation on the Ofas project concluding last week. Construction of the channel is expected to take three to four years and is scheduled to begin this year.
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