Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme
In Spring 2021 we embarked on a collaboration with the Environment Agency as environmental partner for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (OFAS). Over the next 3 years we will work with OFAS to advise and enhance their plan for the long term environmental, climate and human health and wellbeing benefits of the scheme.
Oxford has a long history of flooding, with significant floods in recent decades causing devastating effects. The Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme will reduce the risk of flooding by lowering the existing land (mostly farmland and flood meadow) to the west of Oxford, creating more capacity for flood water. The design will create a new stream with a gently sloping floodplain of wetland habitat, grazing meadow and wildflowers running alongside it.
The scheme will create over 20 hectares of new wetland habitat and include areas suitable for cattle grazing. The habitat alongside the new stream will be landscaped to include around four hectares of backwaters, scrapes and ponds. These will have a variety of depths, dimensions and gradients to encourage biodiversity of wetland and aquatic wildlife. The new stream and its associated habitat will link up existing wetland sites. This will create a green wildlife corridor to the west of Oxford, further increasing biodiversity, and bringing additional benefits beyond reduced flood risk.
Our involvement with the project will help the Environment Agency plan how to make the most of this unique opportunity for people and nature. We will be supporting their public engagement agenda, including creating a living laboratory, where there will be lots to monitor, learn and share as the new wetland habitats develop. Input from other local environmental interest groups will also be vital in helping to achieve this, to ensure that the new landscape and habitats are carefully maintained for the lifetime of the scheme (100 years) and beyond.
The planning application for the scheme has been submitted to Oxfordshire County Council as the local planning authority. In February 2023, the Environment Agency submitted further information in support of the application. This was requested following a public consultation on the application last year. The council is expected to hold a consultation on the Environment Agency’s response shortly, after which it will determine the scheme application.
The Environment Agency will also be making a Compulsory Purchase Order to acquire the land necessary for the building and operation of the scheme.
All the information submitted to the council is available on their ePlanning system – Planning reference MW.0027/22