Call for joined-up thinking over £123m flood channel

Oxford Mail: Cllr Bob Johnston stands above the rail track at South Hinksey that needs to be raised by a metre to prevent flooding Cllr Bob Johnston stands above the rail track at South Hinksey that needs to be raised by a metre to prevent flooding

A CHANCE to save millions on the £123m Oxford flood alleviation channel could be missed if agencies cannot work together, it has been warned.

The Western Conveyance, which received a £26m Government grant last Monday, would divert the Thames from above Botley Road to south of the ring road.

At some point the channel, which is being overseen by the Environment Agency (EA), will have to go underneath the railway.

Network Rail (NR) is carrying out a £1bn electrification of the line into Oxford, which includes raising the track in South Oxford to put it out of flood risk.

This provides an opportunity to dig a culvert for the flood channel if work was done at the same time.

But with the schedule for the Western Conveyance uncertain, Oxfordshire county councillor Bob Johnston fears the opportunity will be missed.

He said: “NR and the EA are talking but I don’t think NR are giving the EA everything they want, so this could end up costing more money in the long run. It’s bonkers, it is much better to do it now than when the line is electrified with 25kv.”

Mr Johnston said he thought the actual cost of the Western Conveyance would be closer to £80m, but the EA had estimated £123m for contingencies.

The EA’s flood risk area manager for Oxford, Barry Russell, said: “The problem is that NR won’t pay for the bypass channel to go underneath the rail.

“In an ideal situation, money would be available to put in a culvert for a future channel at the same stage.”

Mr Russell said with the work costing “many millions” and requiring a significant lead-up time, it was important to make the decision as to whether the works could be done together as soon as possible.

He said: “There would have to be extensive work done beforehand so that when the time comes it can all be done in a number of days.

“Doing it now would be ideal, it is whether the council gets treasury approval to spend the money. We would love for Network Rail to step forward and spend the money.”

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said he believed the NR scheme could definitely be integrated into the Western Conveyance.

He said: “Talks have yet to start but they do need to do that. Hopefully we can avoid a situation where there is wasted money.”

Network Rail confirmed it will be raising 800m of track in the area of the Old Abingdon Road bridge to reduce the flood risk on the line.

Spokeswoman Victoria Bradley said the firm was looking to do work in autumn 2015.

She said: “We are currently working with the EA to try to understand the requirements of the Western Conveyance and if timings allow then we will look to work with them to incorporate the work.”

  • Our top stories:

Drink-binge driver is jailed over fuel spill

Oxford Mail: Oxford Crown Court

8:30am Wednesday 23rd July 2014

A DRINK-driver who caused a fuel spill after crashing his wife’s car into two trucks has been jailed for 16 months.

Vigil for ex-Gaza Scholar as wife and children are killed

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Wednesday 23rd July 2014

A FORMER Oxford Brookes Gaza Scholar is in intensive care and six members of his family dead after their home was bombed by Israeli forces.

17-year wait for killer to be brought to justice

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Wednesday 23rd July 2014

NOT long after 3am on Tuesday, August 26, 1997, petrol was squirted through the letterbox of 156 Magdalen Road, East Oxford, using two Tango bottles.

Man arrested after accident closes St Aldate’s

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Wednesday 23rd July 2014

A MAN was arrested for assault at the scene of an accident in St Aldate’s yesterday just metres away from the city’s police station.

A partial victory as school bus service saved for another year

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Wednesday 23rd July 2014

CAMPAIGNERS in West Oxfordshire say they have have gained a partial victory after an appeal overturned plans to end a free school bus service.

Update: Three arrested after Cowley Road pub fight

Oxford Mail:

9:12pm Tuesday 22nd July 2014

THREE people were arrested after a brawl on Cowley Road.

Comments (1)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

5:48pm Mon 14 Jul 14

Richard Wickson says...

If work done by Utility and Railway type companies in my area is anything to go by then they won't work together. However I think a higher authority should order them to work together in the interest of getting value for public money. This project is long overdue, when I was a boy growing up near Botley the Seacourt stream and other local tributaries were scraped out to keep them deeper and free flowing and it's the abandonment of work such as this which has made the project essential. Get your act together Network Rail and Environment Agency and sort it out.
If work done by Utility and Railway type companies in my area is anything to go by then they won't work together. However I think a higher authority should order them to work together in the interest of getting value for public money. This project is long overdue, when I was a boy growing up near Botley the Seacourt stream and other local tributaries were scraped out to keep them deeper and free flowing and it's the abandonment of work such as this which has made the project essential. Get your act together Network Rail and Environment Agency and sort it out. Richard Wickson
  • Score: 3
Post a comment

Remember you are personally responsible for what you post on this site and must abide by our site terms. Do not post anything that is false, abusive or malicious. If you wish to complain, please use the ‘report this post’ link.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree