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Flood forum channels hope for £123m plans
MORE than 100 representatives met at the weekend to discuss how to protect Oxford from flooding.
Councillors met at the Flood Forum at The King’s Centre, Osney Mead, on Saturday.
Among items under discussions was plans for a Western Conveyance channel around the city to divert flood waters. It would run from Seacourt Stream, north of Botley Road, to Sandford Lock at Sandford-on-Thames, south of the city.
Prime Minister David Cameron gave his support last week but funding is not yet in place.
West Thames operations manager at the Environment Agency Barry Russell said: “The total cost is £123m but it would provide a £1bn benefit over the next 100 years. It would reduce the flood risk to properties in Oxford.”
Councillors were told January’s flooding swamped 168 homes and 32 residents had to evacuated compared to 3,000 homes and 600 evacuees in 2007.
Chief fire officer Dave Etheridge said pumping which kept Botley Road open last month was not a long-term solution.
He said: “It was a unique set of circumstances which allowed us to pump around the clock and keep the road open and open Abingdon Road sooner.
“It was a good solution in the short term but not something which would be available to us in the future.”
Its work in Botley Road and Abingdon Road last month cost about £20,000, he said.
The closure of both roads in January cost the city’s economy about £40m, Oxford City Council said.
Oxfordshire County Council will hold a larger meeting, dubbed a “flooding summit”, on March 21.
Deputy leader Rodney Rose said: “This has allowed us to gather feedback from across the communities which we can analyse ahead of the flood summit. It would be impossible for everyone here to address the summit, so this has been very useful.”
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