Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme
UPDATE: In 2020, the planning application for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme was withdrawn and with this the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the OPT fields. The likelihood is that a new planning application, and subsequent CPOs will be submitted in late 2021. OPT continues to work with professionals to highlight the importance of Hinksey Meadows and Willow Walk with the Environmental Agency. Hinksey Meadows are important flood-plain meadows with species-rich MG4a grassland, containing a high abundance of wildflowers (including snakes-head fritillaries) as well as the historic relevance of these fields.
The Snake's-head Fritillary count in 2021 showed a further increase in flowering plants.
Photo taken by Chris Andrews in 2021
In 2011 the Environment Agency installed six large culverts beneath Willow Walk to increase the flow of flood water downstream. Since then, finding a solution for flood relief has got more momentum and in 2016 the Environment Agency (EA) proposed a new Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme for the west side of Oxford. The route will cross OPT land along 25% of its length, and sadly for us will damage the landscape and natural environment. This causes us a dilemma as it is difficult to object to a scheme which intends to reduce the risk of flooding for people and their properties yet goes against our remit of protecting and enhancing Oxford and its green setting. And if we do object the EA can resort to their powers of compulsory purchase. See our January 2018 blog.
OPT has been working with the EA as far as is possible and has secured some improvements to the scheme on Hinksey Meadow which will act to reduce some of the harmful effects. During a public consultation on the planning application, everyone was encouraged to 'have their say'. We have worked with the EA to get all the trees that will need to be felled marked with yellow along Seacourt Stream, Willow Walk and on the North Hinksey Causeway, together with arranging for the width of the channel to be marked out across our fields. We remain concerned that the large engineering bridges on Willow Walk and the North Hinksey causeway will change the character of this much loved part of Oxford irrevocably.
Photo by Tim King