RESIDENTS were told there is no 'magic bullet' to prevent flooding in Abingdon at a public meeting with the Environment Agency over its decision to shelf a multi-million pound scheme planned for the town.

It was standing room only as around 100 people packed into the Roysse Room in the town's Guildhall on Thursday night to hear from EA staff on why a flood storage area proposed to divert water from homes along the River Ock was no longer going ahead.

Oxford Mail:

MP Layla Moran had called the meeting and told those gathered she had been 'shocked' at the news given the 'promises to the community' after the 2007 floods, which affected more than 400 homes in the town.

Read Layla Moran's initial response to the decision to scrap the Abingdon scheme

The Environment Agency had been working with Vale of White Horse District Council, Oxfordshire County Council and the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC) on the plans, which centred around building a flood storage area at Abingdon Common.

It was initially estimated to cost £5m, split between Vale and Government agency Thames RFCC.

In January it was revealed new estimates put the true cost at £9.7m.

Oxford Mail:

Joanna Emberson Wines, project manager for both the Oxford and Abingdon Flood Alleviation schemes explained that a feasibility study showed not only would the storage area be more expensive to build, but that it would protect fewer homes than originally hoped, making it no longer viable.

There was applause when a questioner pointed out an extra £30m had been found for Oxford's own flood scheme.

Cost of Oxford flood channel rises to £150m

Ms Emberson Wines responded it boiled down to 'quite a crude Government calculator of cost/benefit' and the success of the Oxford scheme was in generating 'record amounts' of funding from private partners, which was not possible in Abingdon.

She added: "It's not at all about one community being more appropriate to have that money spent on them than another."

Oxford Mail:

Julia Simpson, the EA's Thames Valley Director, stressed Abingdon's flood risk was difficult to solve and there was no 'magic bullet' that would entirely fix the issue but the EA was committed to the town and would work 'piecemeal'.

She added: "There is no easy solution but we are not walking away from the issues and problems in Abingdon."

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Ms Simpson pointed to work being done on natural defences as well as broader schemes further upstream which could benefit the town. There are also temporary barriers which can be deployed along the Ock in the event of flooding.

Michael Moor, who has been campaigning for better flood defences for the town since 2002, however, said he was not reassured by the meeting. He said: "We've been having these for years and nothing really seems to change."