According to recent Oxford Mail Reports, given the recent flooding problems in Oxford, significant progress was made this week after a first offer of funding was made to contribute towards the £125m project to build a flood relief channel in the city.
The Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee supported the Western Conveyance scheme at a meeting in Wandsworth. They put aside £12m for the project and have recommended that it be included in a six-year flood relief scheme set of plans. This funding comes from a local levy made to all the different organisations forming the committee.
The committee is designed to manage flood risk and is made up of representatives of organisations from areas across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, London and Hertfordshire. It is in a similar position to other committees across the country bidding to the Environmental Agency (EA) for project funding for other flood defence schemes. The EA previously said a further £30-£50m could be released for this scheme from the government on top of the £12m from the committee, subject to minister approval.
The scheme has attracted comments from a range of local MPs.
Bob Price, the leader of Oxford City Council, said that this marked the first of many financial commitments towards the project saying that, “over 100 homes and businesses were affected financially and domestically by the flooding.
“The Council is implementing the Government’s compensation scheme with supple tray funding, if required, from the flooding contingency that was included in the 14/15 Council budget.”
He further commented that, “This is a very important first step. It means that this is now a priority scheme which will lead to significant improvements.”
Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood said, “It is great news that the committee has backed local residents and businesses and agreed with us that the scheme must go ahead. This is only the first hurdle we need to overcome but this decision sends a strong message to the EA, to the Government, to local authorities and other funders that this is the right flood defence project for Oxford and Abingdon and it is the time to commit to funding it.”
Andrew Smith, Oxford East’s MP highlighted that, “It is very good news and it is a further very welcome and necessary step. Obviously more money is needed and all the dominoes need to be in line for it to happen, but this is an extremely important one.”
This scheme comes to the relief of many who were faced with the wettest month since records began in January, according to Oxford University’s Radcliffe Meteorological Station. Many people across Oxford and Abingdon saw river levels rise, resulting in closed off roads and cancelled rowing fixtures.
One student at New College commented that, “The floods caused so much inconvenience for me in terms of my sporting commitments to rowing, so I am glad that measures are being put into place to ensure constant safe river levels.”