ABOUT 1,000 families across Oxfordshire could face increased insurance premiums after the Environment Agency deemed their homes as being at greater risk of flooding.

The Environment Agency last night published the latest information on flood risk through an online map, which is updated when new data becomes available.

The new map shows 21 communities across the county affected by the changes, with Cowley Marsh and Florence Park in Oxford and Bicester worst hit.

There were about 1,000 properties added to the map or reassessed as being under greater threat and 455 were removed. Fifty have been re-classified as at lower risk than previously.

Barry Russell, the Environment Agency’s area flood risk manager, said: “Residents’ housing insurance premiums will potentially be affected and people need to speak to their insurers when it is time to renew their policies.

“We understand that some people will be concerned about this but the Environment Agency does need to make the information available to the public.”

In Cowley Marsh and Florence Park, which contains the Boundary Brook, about 500 properties have been reassessed as being at higher risk, but 40 have been reclassified as lower risk and 75 homes have been removed from the map.

Mr Russell added that the maps were updated following detailed research involving computer modelling.

He said: “We would urge all residents to check whether their property now lies within our flood map and, if so, to sign up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning where it is available.”

Saj Malik, Labour city councillor for Cowley Marsh, said: “Some residents will not be happy but I think the Environment Agency has a duty to put the information out.

“About four years ago the Boundary Brook flooded Marsh Road, even though homes were not affected on that occasion.”

Mr Russell said about three homes in Marsh Road were now judged to be at higher risk of flooding.

Kelly Ostler-Coyle, of the Association of British Insurers, said although flood risk was a significant factor in setting premiums, the Environment Agency’s maps would come as no surprise to some companies because they had more sophisticated models.

She added insurers were obliged to continue to cover existing policy holders.

Dr Peter Rawcliffe, of the Oxford Flood Alliance, said: “Changes to the flood map do worry people because they think they will have to pay more on their insurance and are concerned that their homes will be less sellable.”

In Bicester, 248 properties have been reassessed as being at higher risk, 10 properties reclassified as a lower risk and 114 removed from the flood map altogether.

Bicester town councillor Dan Sames said the council would be examining the new maps in detail.

The River Thames from Sandford to Whitchurch will see 261 properties added to the map and 266 removed in 18 towns and villages.

  • CHECK whether your property now lies on the flood map on environment-agency.gov.uk If it is within the dark blue outline called ‘Flooding from Rivers and the Sea’, it has a one per cent chance of flooding in any year.

If it is within the light blue outline called ‘Extent of Extreme Flood’, it has a 0.1 per cent chance of flooding in any year.

If it is not within either of these extents it is no longer on the flood map.

The Environment Agency will continue to update the maps as new information is received.

Residents can also call the 24-hour floodline service on 0845 988 1188.