Thankyou to Daniel for some more drone flood pictures from January. Two are of the River Ock, showing the water getting close to the houses on the Ladygrove Estate and Tesco. The other is of the River Thames.
In parliament yesterday (24th Feb 2021), Layla Moran, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, got the opportunity to debate with a Minister of the Environment the issue of flooding in Oxford and Abingdon. This was done as an adjournment debate.
Layla pointed out that Oxford West and Abingdon has historically flooded, and in most recent times devastatingly so in 2007 and again, notably, in 2014. Layla said she raised this question again because she felt little progress had been made since an earlier debate with a previous minister. She mentioned delays in the Oxford flood alleviation scheme which could be delayed by up to five years because of bridge works that need to be completed in Kennington.
Regarding Abingdon, she said her constituents worried about a repeat of 2007. She said the scheme for a flood storage area upstream of Abingdon on the River Ock had been investigated but for crude cost reasons was not deemed viable. She said residents went from having a scheme to suddenly not having one at all. She said ‘We are not spending enough on communities like Abingdon. If the Minister stands by the calculations, will she at the very least ask the Environment Agency to help draw up new plans for what can be done in Abingdon that it can afford?’
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Rebecca Pow, started by saying what the government are doing nationally about flooding – spending more in the new 2021 to 2027 investment programme.
She said she was mindful of the challenges that the town of Abingdon has faced, and faces, and particularly the flooding experience of 2007, when more than 400 homes were flooded by the River Ock. Over recent years, the Environment Agency has taken action to reduce flooding in Abingdon, including increased levels of river maintenance, the provision of a flood wall along St Helen’s Mill, and a robust deployment plan for temporary defences, should they be needed.
In 2018, the Environment Agency investigated the development of a flood storage area upstream of Abingdon on the River Ock. The investigations found that while a flood storage area was technically feasible, the benefits would not be much greater than those delivered by the Environment Agency’s routine river maintenance. It did not represent value for money to the taxpayer.
She said the Environment Agency is reviewing further suggestions from a local community flood group, called the Ock Valley Flood Group. It is looking at whether there is scope for a temporary flood barrier alignment to be made into a permanent defence, and the agency is gathering evidence on whether this would be technically and economically viable.
The Environment Agency have also been investigating whether natural flood management options would be effective in reducing flood risk in Abingdon.