Agenda item

Public participation

To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak. 

Minutes:

Riki Therivel had submitted the following question to Councillor Thomas, Leader of the council, but was unable to attend the meeting.

“Everyone agrees that a flood scheme is needed for Oxford.  The proposed Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme comprises flood defences, raised bridges, etc., plus a highly destructive and expensive channel.  Construction of the channel will destroy much of the irreplaceable Hinksey Meadow, delay millions of journeys on the A34 and lead to more traffic jams and possibly accidents, encircle South Hinksey for 3-5 years, and strongly reduce recreational access in the North and South Hinksey area during and after construction.  The channel would provide less than 1% of the scheme's financial benefits.  The scheme can proceed without the channel.

We attach our summary Compulsory Purchase Order objection, which gives further information on the points above.

Both Oxfordshire County Council and the University of Oxford oppose the CPO despite being project partners.  North Hinksey and South Hinksey parish councils oppose the entire scheme because of the channel's impacts. 

Given this, and the fact that most of the channel's negative impacts would fall on Vale residents, with only a couple of homes in the Vale protected by the channel, why is the Vale of White Horse District Council supporting the flood scheme at the Compulsory Purchase Order inquiry?

Could we suggest that the Vale withdraws its support for the scheme for the CPO inquiry?”

Councillor Thomas provided the following written response in advance of the meeting:

 

“Thank you for your question, and I’m glad that you recognise the need for a flood scheme for Oxford.  Nobody wants to see a repeat of the devastating floods of 2007.

 

To have your home flooded is a miserable, upsetting and costly experience.  The Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme offers enhanced flood protection to almost 1000 homes, many of them in South Hinksey which is in our district.

 

The purpose of lowering the floodplain is to provide more capacity for floodwater, drawing it away from homes and businesses.  Without the lowering of the floodplain my understanding is that the protection offered by the rest of the scheme is less certain.  It will be for the Environment Agency to make the case for the design of the scheme at the CPO inquiry which starts next month, and for the inspector to assess it on its merits.

 

I do appreciate that there will be some disruption while the scheme is under construction.  The Environment Agency has listened to concerns of South Hinksey residents and will locate its compound as far as possible from the village, with a protective earth bund to limit the impact.  I know they are aiming to move as much material as possible by rail, although that will require planning permission and other consents to be in place so it cannot be guaranteed.

 

The Environment Agency has also listened to concerns about the impact on the grassland at Hinksey Meadow, and they have redesigned the route of the lowered floodplain accordingly.  The so-called “channel” will look and behave like a natural stream, with grazing pasture and wetland alongside it.  There will be new planting of hedgerows, trees and woodland.  Recreational access to the area of the scheme will be maintained during and after its construction, though clearly, we should expect some disruption for a time.

 

This council will continue to make the case for minimising the visual and environmental impacts of the scheme and maximising its long term benefits.  We all want this scheme to be the best it can be.

 

The scheme will bring substantial benefit to many residents of the Vale and the city of Oxford by reducing flood risk to homes and businesses.  That’s why it has the continued support of this council”.

 

 

Supporting documents:

 

Vale of White Horse District Council