£120m made available by Government

THE Government has freed up £120m in flood defence cash, and Oxfordshire may be eligible for a slice.

A week of heavy downpours saw the county deluged as homes, businesses and schools were affected.

Scenes echoing 2007’s crisis occurred and residents appealed for more long-term flood alleviation plans to be put in place.

Yesterday, the Government announced the money will be made available for areas which can prove the defences will help industry, or those with plans already in place.

Oxfordshire County Council would have to apply to the Environment Agency for a cut of the money. The Environment Agency said unless cash is found for a £100m defence scheme, Oxford will never be free of flooding. But a scheme drawn up in 2002 could prove key to unlocking some of the Treasury funding.

The £100m figure was put on an Environment Agency project first mooted 10 years ago, but was shelved.

The plan concerned a 6km excavated river channel which would run from Botley Road to just downstream of Sandford Lock, and would protect thousands of properties from damage.

Spokesman Dave Ferguson said: “We would need huge investment to make it work. “The problem in Oxford is the river splits into a number of different channels. There is also an issue with groundwater flooding.

“The main proposal was a flood channel named the ‘western conveyance channel’, a newly created channel that runs from Botley to Sandford Lock.

“Building a new channel is incredibly costly, and would be more than £100m to put in place, but it would protect thousands of people.”

Deputy county council leader Rodney Rose said: “We have a number of schemes we are closely considering at the moment.

“We await the eligibility criteria for this new finance before we can assess which, if any, of the schemes meet those criteria.”

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