Campaigns / Slider / December 3, 2014

Demanding The Flood Defences We Always Needed

*** UPDATE***

Chancellor George Osborne MP has announced £42 million in funding for the Oxford & Abingdon Flood Defence Scheme as part of the 2014 Autumn Statement.

Along with funding already committed by the Environment Agency and local councils, this means that over £100m is now in place and work can start on the Western Conveyance Flood Relief channel, so that over 7,600 homes and businesses across the constituency can be assured of long-term protection from flood risk.

Now the main priority is ensuring that the scheme is delivered on time and in budget and achieves the best level of flood protection possible for homes in Oxford and Abingdon.

This winter, once again, too many local residents faced the stress and disruption of securing their homes against flooding. Business owners and commuters suffered as road and rail closures brought our local economy to a standstill and parents had to make care arrangements for children as schools closed.

The Environment Agency and emergency services were widely praised for an effective response in Oxfordshire and many more recent flood defences, like those on Osney Island and the new Kennington Flood Scheme, clearly worked. Nevertheless, well-known trouble spots like St Helen’s Mill and South Hinksey still experienced problems and I believe that weary flood victims have a right to expect their local and national politicians to be doing everything in their power to protect them from flooding for the long term.

That is why as in previous years, I visited local residents across the constituency during the flooding discussing concerns about flood insurance, inadequate drainage infrastructure leading to foul water flooding, the need for dredging and different options for better, long term flood defences.

And it is why I am campaigning for Long Term Flood Defences for Oxford and Abingdon: the Western Relief Channel and the Abingdon Defence Scheme. Together these schemes will cost approximately £127m and will protect thousands of homes and businesses in Oxford, Abingdon and the surrounding area, not to mention keep roads, railways and schools open for business.

  • Nicola raised these issues with Owen Paterson MP, the Environment Secretary, when he visited Osney during the flooding and pressed him on the issue of drainage infrastructure in Parliament.
  • Cornered Eric Pickles MP, Communities Secretary, on the need for Government support for the Scheme when he visited during the flooding.
  • Joined forces with Andrew Smith MP for Oxford East to write to the Prime Minister asking for his support for the Flood Defences, subsequently attending a high level meeting at No 10 to discuss it.
  • Invited Philip Hammond MP, Defence Secretary, and the Prime Minister to a Tea Party held in South Hinksey to thank all those involved in the flood relief effort locally, to see the large scale temporary flood defences the Army had built to protect the village, and to hear about local plans for long term flood defences and their importance to local residents and businesses.
  • Held a half-day surgery with Thames Water to enable community representatives from across the constituency to raise drainage infrastructure problems and agree local action plans.
  • Supported the Flood Summit hosted by Oxfordshire County Council to bring together all parties who need to work together to make the Flood Defences happen, financially and logistically (local authorities, MPs, LEP, Network Rail, Thames Water, Community Flood Groups etc).
  • Attended a meeting of all Thames Valley MPs with Philip Hammond MP, Defence Secretary, to discuss regional flooding issues.
  • Attended an update meeting for Oxfordshire MPs with the Secretariat who are the group that were set up at the Flood Summit to progress the Flood Defence Scheme.
  • Welcomed the Regional Flooding and Coastal Committee’s inclusion of the Western Relief Channel in their six-year funding plan and allocation of £12m to the scheme

I was thrilled the Government had committed £26m to the Oxford Flood Relief Scheme as part of the Oxfordshire Growth Deal in July 2014. Along with Regional Flood and Coastal Committee Funding, DEFRA, and local authority funding this guarantees that the Oxford Flood Relief Scheme and the Abingdon Defence Scheme will go ahead.

Now the main priority is ensuring that the scheme is delivered on time and in budget and achieves the best level of flood protection possible for homes in Oxford and Abingdon.

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