A PROPOSED £120m flood relief channel will still leave 600 homes in Oxford at risk of flooding, the Environment Agency revealed.

The EA said the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme, from near Seacourt Park and Ride to the Thames at Sandford Lock, would protect 1,200 of 1,800 homes at risk.

But the agency said it would look into other options to protect those homes not covered by the new channel.

Oxford Flood Alliance chairman Peter Rawcliffe said the EA must make sure all homes were protected.

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Mr Rawcliffe, who lives in South Hinksey – one of the places worst hit by floods – said: “Doing property-level protection for a few hundred houses would be chicken feed compared to the cost of the conveyance. It would be perfectly possible to include.

“In discussions I’ve had with the EA, the Western Conveyance (now called the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme) may not save everyone from the biggest floods but the scheme could involve other elements.

“They could add a bund around Wolvercote or South Hinksey, or give individual protection to homes, such as flood gates.”

Oxford, Abingdon and surrounding villages have suffered from flooding from the Thames and other rivers for years.

Most recently, dozens of homes were hit by rising water levels in January and February last year, with Abingdon Road and Botley Road both shut for days.

Convenor of the Sustainable Flood Plan Group Dr Kate Prendergast said: “It’s a lot of money if there will still be so many homes at risk.”

But she said: “The figures at this stage are meaningless – what about new properties which will inevitably be built in the long term?

“We don’t have a proposed route or any detailed plan so how can they know how many homes would be protected at this stage?”

David Cameron visited Oxford in December to pledge £42m and his support towards the scheme, which would divert water around the city to the west.

In addition, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership has pledged £26m, there is £14m from the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committees and £2m from local councils, giving a total of £84m.

The Environment Agency expects to reach £100m with more Government funding, but will need to raise a further £20m from partners such as Thames Water and Oxford University.

It has estimated the scheme would provide about £770m worth of economic benefits over 100 years.

This is made up of “damages avoided to homes, businesses and agricultural land; disruption avoided to roads, rail and to schools and losses of income avoided”.

Oxford city councillor David Thomas, a chartered water engineer, said talk of securing funding was premature.

He said: “It is far from clear what the current spending commitments for flood protection in Oxford actually are.

“We know from the Environment Agency there will need to be a feasibility phase before detailed designs for the flood alleviation channel can be properly costed.

“We currently know almost nothing about any potential maintenance costs, which will fall to the taxpayer to fund, so any talk of securing full funding for the project is highly premature.”

The Environment Agency has already reduced the number of homes at flood risk in Oxford from 4,500 to 1,800 by managing and maintaining rivers.

That maintenance would still have to continue after the flood alleviation scheme was built.

The base figure of 4,500 that would be at risk without any flood protection measures is expected to rise to more than 6,000 by 2080 because of climate change.

It is unclear how this increase translates to the number of homes after taking into consideration the flood channel and other schemes.

An EA spokeswoman said: “We will continue to investigate options for the remaining properties during the more detailed appraisal of the scheme.”

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