AN EXTRA £68,075 will go into funding flood defences in Abingdon after a multi-million pound scheme was scrapped due to spiralling costs.

Vale of White Horse District Council’s Cabinet agreed to make the payment to the Environment Agency at a meeting on Friday.

It will go towards employing a natural flood management project manager and identifying opportunities for natural flood management around the River Ock.

These measures include projects such as restoring bends in rivers and changing the way land is managed so soil can absorb more water.

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

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

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In January, however, it was revealed new estimates put the true cost at £9.7m and it was shelved indefinitely.

The new funding boost is in addition to flood reduction work in Abingdon that the council and the Environment Agency have already done.

This includes the building of a flood wall at St Helen’s Mill and provision of temporary flood barriers which can be deployed as and when needed.

Judy Roberts, Cabinet member for Partnership and Insight, said: “The council and councillors are very aware of the impact flooding has had on residents in and around Abingdon.

“We are looking to reduce that risk and are anticipating that natural flood management can offer a long-term sustainable solution. As well as helping reduce flood risk, NFM can also benefit people and wildlife, helping restore habitats, improve water quality and helping make catchments more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

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She added: “This funding demonstrates our commitment to working and engaging with partners to find solutions to help protect people’s properties and businesses in the Abingdon area.”

Around 100 people packed into the Roysse Room in the town’s Guildhall in March to hear EA staff explain why the flood storage area proposed to divert water from homes along the River Ock was no longer going ahead.

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.

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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.

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.”