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

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

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

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:

Beds in sheds: Almost 300 illegal dwellings across Oxford

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Thursday 29th January 2015

THERE are almost 300 illegal dwellings currently across the city, with officials warning the number could rise.

UPDATE: Reports of snow in Chipping Norton and Carterton as warning issued for county

Oxford Mail: Ice warning for Sussex after more snow falls

12:06pm Thursday 29th January 2015

There have been reports of snow in Chipping Norton and Carterton as the county was issued a warning for wintry weather.

Tables: GCSE and A Level results for 2014

Oxford Mail:

12:30pm Thursday 29th January 2015

Results tables released by the Department for Education

Sheep dies after flock stray onto A40 near Wolvercote

Oxford Mail: Swampy the sheep and her lamb

9:33am Thursday 29th January 2015

A SHEEP was killed in an incident which closed the A40 near Wolvercote for almost half an hour last night.

Alfie Potter desperate to get smile back after moving from Oxford United

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Thursday 29th January 2015

ALFIE Potter says he will always have great memories from his time at Oxford United.

Volunteers praised as ebola vaccine tests progress

Oxford Mail:

8:10am Thursday 29th January 2015

THE first results from the trial of an Ebola vaccine have shown it is well tolerated and provokes an immune response.

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

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

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