Flood-risk area campaigns for future protection money

South Hinskey Parish Council chairman Maggie Rawcliffe, right, with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and MP Nicola Blackwood on a visit to view flood defences in February

South Hinskey Parish Council chairman Maggie Rawcliffe, right, with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and MP Nicola Blackwood on a visit to view flood defences in February

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

FLOOD-PRONE South Hinksey is to campaign for money for new defences after being told it was competing with “a lot of other places”.

The Environment Agency’s Oxford flood risk manager Barry Russell told villagers at a meeting on Monday night that there was only “a finite amount of money” for future flood protection measures.

And after he said that “local will is the biggest thing that will make this happen”, the parish council launched a lobbying campaign to local and national politicians in the hope it does not miss out on Government money.

Flood risk manager for Oxford Barry Russell told villagers at a South Hinksey Parish Council chairman Maggie Rawcliffe interpreted this as ensuring that the council campaigns for the cash.

The council has now written to Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood, Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth and defence secretary Philip Hammond appealing for money for flood defences.

In February, the EA recruited soldiers from Abingdon’s Dalton Barracks to install a 600-metre wall of concrete blocks to shield the village’s 80 homes from rising water.

After visiting South Hinksey and other parts of Oxford during the floods, Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron said there was a “strong case” for building a £123m western conveyance flood relief channel around Oxford.

On Monday that support materialised in a £26m Government donation towards the scheme, which could begin as early as 2016.

But South Hinksey Parish Council asked Mr Russell what the EA could do to protect the village in the meantime.

Mrs Rawcliffe asked: “How likely is South Hinksey to have some temporary protection in future flood events?”

Mr Russell said: “The challenge we have is that South Hinksey is competing with a lot of areas with a lot more properties at risk.

“I am pushing very hard for South Hinksey to be one of those places that is highlighted as a need.

“What is likely to happen is more purchase of demountable defences, stored at Osney and Marston, and this will be the central hub from which they can be taken anywhere from the South West to Kent.

“At a time of flooding coming down the Thames, so long as there aren’t other places flooding as well, I think the likelihood would be high (that South Hinksey would get defences).”

The EA is currently looking at where to carry out preparatory ground works to make it easier to install temporary defences in a hurry.

He said there was no timescale for when the decision would be made.

Mr Russell said any preparatory work would not necessarily be carried out by the winter.

Peter Rawcliffe, chairman of the Oxford Flood Alliance, said: “We will be looking at whether a temporary bund is available to us in the future. At the moment there is no funding to give the village its own bund, but we are determined to get one.”

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