The Oxford flood alleviation scheme is one of the biggest flood schemes currently planned in England.
Working with the natural floodplain to the west of Oxford, the proposed scheme will create a new stream meandering through a sloping floodplain of grazing meadow with wildflowers and wetland. The scheme will create more than 20 hectares of new wetland habitat and around 16 hectares of floodplain meadow.
When water levels in the River Thames are high, the stream will start to fill its floodplain, reducing flood risk to built-up areas of the city.
Hard engineering will be kept to a minimum, the Environment Agency says, but there will be new structures where needed, such as bridges for footpaths to cross the new stream, culverts (tunnels) for floodwater to pass under main roads, and earth embankments and flood walls.
The new stream will be approximately 5km long, running from just north of Botley Road down to south of the A423 near Kennington, where it rejoins the River Thames. Most of this area is farmland and flood meadow.
The planning application has been lodged with Oxfordshire County Council, which is one of the partners to the scheme, along with Oxford City Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Thames Water, Thames Regional Flood & Coastal Committee, Oxford Flood Alliance, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Oxford and National Highways.
Joanne Emberson Wines, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: “The Oxford flood alleviation scheme will reduce flood risk to all properties in Oxford currently at risk of flooding from the River Thames. It’s a long-term solution that will help the city adapt to our changing climate and make it more resilient to future floods.
“The scheme has also been designed to bring environmental and community improvements to the area, creating a new wetland landscape that will benefit wildlife and local people for generations to come. Submitting this planning application is a huge step in making this a reality for communities in and around Oxford.”