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Notes from the North News

The Thames Valley Flood Scheme 18 Apr 2024 They may be some way off, but plans for a possible flood storage area near Eynsham could be good news for the village.

As Elaine Rhodes’s excellent cover photo on the March issue of Eynsham News made clear, something significant is happening to local weather and flood patterns. So we were interested to receive a letter a few weeks ago from the Environment Agency, telling us about the Thames Valley Flood Scheme (in their “February 2024 project update”).

As far as I can tell, this information about flood management and storage options across the whole of the Thames Valley only went to properties “within the vicinity” of the options for flood storage. It was therefore delivered to us north of the A40, but not to residents in Eynsham village itself. Since this Scheme could have some real benefits for Eynsham, I thought you might like to be told of its existence.[1]  

Although the Scheme got under way in 2021, it is still very much in the conceptual stage. Nothing definite is going to happen soon. However, in some ways it is quite advanced. When they set out to identify potential areas for flood storage, the Environment Agency’s team came up with 701 possible options. Further rounds of investigation reduced this number to 212, then 84 and now 17. These 17 will probably be reduced again, but they don’t yet know the final number that will go ahead, which will depend on further funding. You would think that flooding is a serious enough issue to guarantee that it will be available.

Flood storage means setting aside a large area of land to hold back water temporarily, at times of flood risk, and releasing it slowly. Raised embankments would surround the storage area to protect nearby properties and safely contain the water. The land would return to agricultural use between flood incidents.

One of the last 17 sites, which may or may not be chosen, is the area immediately to the north of Eynsham and the A40. In an online meeting with them the other day, I asked which side of Lower Road it would be, or would it be on both sides? They were not yet in a position to say. As it stands, the site marked on their latest map would coincide almost exactly with Salt Cross Garden Village and with part of Botley West Solar Farm. The team has not yet had discussions with either Grosvenor (about the Garden Village) or PVDP/Solar 5 (about Botley West).

Of course, the site may not be chosen and the Scheme may still not go ahead as currently envisaged. But if it is, and does, the implications for the two huge development projects north of Eynsham are also huge. And they could be positive: less flood risk to Eynsham, better nearby countryside access along the embankments, and more habitat and wildlife in protected areas because natural flood management measures would accompany the storage area.

Anyway, one to watch.

 

[1] See: https://engageenvironmentagency.uk.engagementhq.com/hub-page/thames-valley.

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