WORK on a much-anticipated flood relief channel around Oxford could begin in two years’ time, it has been claimed.
Oxfordshire County Council deputy leader Rodney Rose was speaking after the Government gave £26m towards the Western Conveyance Channel. He said negotiations with landowners on the route would start shortly.
Mr Rose said: “The first thing you need is a business case and most of that has been accepted.
“Then you’ve got to do the ground research and find out the exact route, and that involves discussions with landowners. I would hope to get them on board rather than use compulsory purchase orders. Hopefully we will be working up from Sandford Lock in about two years.”
The funding means there is now £76m committed to the scheme, with £38m already confirmed from the Environment Agency and £12m from the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, a body made up of councils in the Thames basin area.
Mr Rose said the county council would now decide how much it could contribute.
Discussions are also ongoing with Oxford University and the county’s business community to see what funding they could provide.
Nigel Tipple, chief executive of Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “At this stage it is too early to put a number on how much the business community can contribute.”
Costing a total of £125m – including a £2m flood defence scheme downsteam at Abingdon – the Western Conveyance Channel would be as wide as the River Thames and would run from Seacourt Stream north of Botley Road to the River Thames at Sandford Lock, diverting flood water away from Oxford.
The news that the scheme is set to go ahead was welcomed in areas of the city affected by flooding.
South Hinksey resident Adrian Porter said: “Perhaps the recent floods were a blessing because it enabled us to get this off the ground.”
Colin Howes, 75, who lives in Bullstake Close, off Botley Road, said: “It will probably be a bit late for me because I’m getting on a bit, but of course I am pleased it is going ahead.”
John Brooks, owner of Isis Creative Framing in Northampton Road, South Oxford, said: “If they can make it work it will be great.”
The Western Conveyance was first proposed four years ago but did not get off the drawing board for lack of funding.
Mr Rose also welcomed a study showing that the East West Rail link could boost the regional economy by £73m.
The link will connect Oxford with Milton Keynes and Bedford by March 2019 and could be extended to Cambridge.
Mr Rose, who is chairman of the East West Rail joint delivery board, said: “These findings serve to reinforce the extraordinary case for investment in the railway and show just how important it is to our region.”
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