BOATOWNERS fear one touted version of Oxford’s £120m flood alleviation scheme would destroy their “fantastic, magical and beautiful” lifestyle.

People living at Weirs Orchard Moorings are concerned that Option A, which involves widening Weirs Mill Stream to increase flow, would spell the end for the water-borne community.

The boat-dwellers prefer the Environment Agency’s Option C – which involves a new channel being created across Iffley Meadows in what was a small stream about 100 years ago.

Tim Wiseman, who has lived on moorings in the area for 11 years, said: “Option C is great as it solves the problem, doesn’t have as big an effect on the environment and it would be less disruption for us.

“We were told we would have to be put up in hotels or rented accommodation for three to six months and our boats would be stored somewhere if the decision to widen the river went ahead.

“It would be devastating if we were forced out. It would shatter a community that is really close and has been here for a long time, with established livelihoods.”

About 30 people live on the 17 moorings, which have been occupied since before the Second World War. Residents were shocked when the plans first came out.

About 12 people met with Oxford City Council leader Bob Price, along with fellow councillors John Tanner and Jean Fooks, on Saturday to give their points of view on the major project.

Sam Dent, who restores boats for a living, said Option C would be cheaper and the new channel through the meadow would enhance wildlife in the area.

She added: “Our community here is very unique as we all have postal addresses, pay council tax and are registered to vote. So it’s basically like having a house, but on the water. We all have jobs – most people work in Oxford. We love where we live. It’s a very close community of working people, like others in Oxford, and we hope the council and Agency remember that we are here.”

The Weirs Orchard Moorings are one section of the plans for a seven-kilometre drainage system to reduce flooding in Oxford.

The channel, which could be as wide as 150m in places, will run from Seacourt Park-and-Ride in Botley Road past Willow Walk and on to the Devil’s Backbone – a path which leads to South Hinksey.

The scheme aims to reduce flood damage to more than 1,000 homes and businesses as well as tackling the impact on the economy, roads and railways in the face of major flooding.

The Environment Agency also wants to create a new wildlife habitat and recreational space for watersports.

Mr Price, said he agreed with residents that Option C would be the best way to go.

He added: “Right from the start my thoughts were Option C because it’s cheaper, is good for environment and would create less disruption.”