During June and July the Environment Agency and its partners held 5 public events across the Oxford area. The aim of these events was to update local communities on the work to significantly reduce the risk of flooding in the city.
These events were also set up to offer local communities and residents the opportunity to talk to the technical specialists who are working on the project and to provide them with valuable information about the local area. The events were attended by nearly 300 people, with over 135 attendees completing feedback questionnaires about their views on the scheme. The Environment Agency has now been through all of these questionnaires and collated all of the detail.
Feedback from these events indicates that local residents are passionate about Oxford’s rich history, culture, environment and wildlife. Many residents and local community groups are pleased that the scheme is being developed to reduce flood risk and are keen for any scheme to work with the existing landscape.
Where possible, enhancing the environment to improve biodiversity and improving recreational use of the flood plain was noted. Suggestions including additional cycle routes, public footpaths and fishing facilities were also made. The project team are now looking at these ideas to see what might be feasible and this information could prove vital as the design of the scheme progresses.
Joanna Larmour, Project Director for the Environment Agency, said:
The primary role of a flood relief channel will be to reduce flood risk to people in Oxford.
We are continuing to work closely with local environmental groups to also look for opportunities to enhance the landscape character, cultural heritage and wildlife habitats of the area. We will seek to ensure that any scheme will work with natural processes to bring multiple benefits and enhancements to the local environment.
Councillor Rodney Rose, deputy leader for Oxfordshire County Council added:
As one of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme partners, Oxfordshire County Council fully supported the public events. We were very pleased with the number of people who attended, and with the range of views and quality of information gathered. We look forward to being involved in similar events as the scheme progresses.
Following on from the public events, the project team have begun using the information they were given to feed into their evaluation of the options available for a channel route. They are continuing to develop these options and will share these with you at the next round of public events, which they are planning to hold later this year.
The team will begin ground investigation work in the area in September. This work is scheduled to take 4 weeks and will consist of digging boreholes and test pits into the ground. The results of this work will help the team to understand the geology of underlying layers of rock and soil and confirm groundwater levels.