AN ENVIRONMENT Agency boat struck the Osney Bridge water pipe that has resulted in misery for drivers, it has been confirmed.

The Government agency said one of its boats was heading to Osney Lock to remove an obstruction on April 18 when it ‘accidentally’ caught a Thames Water pipe hanging down under the bridge.

A spokesman said: “The Environment Agency takes the safety of its staff and the general public very seriously – the crew were unharmed and able to continue to Osney.

“We assisted Thames Water with river access as they made necessary repairs to their network.”

Another boat was said to have hit the pipe shortly after the prang involving the Environment Agency vessel.

Thames Water has said the works, which have resulted in Botley Road being partly shut causing chaos for drivers, will run until the end of August.

Osney Bridge, Botley Road

Osney Bridge, Botley Road

Osney Bridge, Oxford

Cllr Susanna Pressel, ward councillor for Osney and St Thomas on Oxford City Council, said: “I’m getting a huge volume of complaints about the traffic hold-ups.

“The hundreds of poor people who live in nearby streets off Botley Road have to wait a long time to turn out of and back into their streets.

“I’m also getting complaints from cyclists who feel unsafe because they think that priority is given to cars and from many people who are worried when impatient drivers jump the red lights.

“And one of the biggest worries is about the air pollution caused by all the idling engines. Above all, people are furious that they very often go over the bridge and see no sign of anyone working.”

Thames Water regional networks manager Tom Hutchinson said: “This is a complex repair which will take time to finish and we want to thank customers for their patience while we fix this vital part of Oxford’s water system.

“The work we’re carrying out is taking longer than normal but we must make sure customers don’t lose their water supply during the repair.

“We know this is a busy route into Oxford and we’re sorry for the disruption our work is causing.”

Environment Agency vessels at Osney Lock

Environment Agency vessels at Osney Lock

Environment Agency boats on Osney Lock

The company acknowledged that the lane closure on Botley Road ‘can be frustrating’, but said it was to ensure the safety of pedestrians and those using the road.

Oxfordshire County Council, which manages the highways network, said its officers were working closely with the water company. The council could charge Thames Water £2,500 a day if the works overrun, although the firm would be able to apply for permission to extend the roadworks if there were delays.

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