Filed under: flood

Planning for Natural Flood Defences on the River Ock

Natural Flood Defences
The Vale of White Horse District Council agreed last week to put £68,075 towards Natural Flood Management upstream on the River Ock.

Natural Flood Management aims is to hold back flood water so that important settlements, like Abingdon, do not get it all at once. The Environment Agency will be able to use the money to employ a project manager to work with land owners along the River Ock catchment. They will identify natural ways to slow down the flow of flood water after a big downpour. This could involve tree planting so the ground can absorb more water, or allowing the river to meander naturally so the water has further to travel.

Presumably this is just the first payment. Once measures have been identified, more money will be needed.

The picture shows the River Ock flowing through Abingdon earlier today.

3 Comments August 9, 2019

Abingdon Floods in The House of Commons

Debate on Abingdon Floods
Congratulations to Layla Moran, our local MP, for securing a debate in the House of Commons last Thursday on the decision to mothball the River Ock flood storage scheme.

In 2007 more than 400 homes were flooded by the River Ock. The proposed flood storage scheme would have been funded by a partnership of the Vale of White Horse District Council, Oxfordshire County Council and the Thames regional flood and coastal committee.
Debate on Abingdon Floods
Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon) (LD) said “…The Environment Agency initially estimated that the scheme would cost £5 million, but realised more recently that the true cost was closer to double that ….”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Dr Thérèse Coffey), replied “The original cost of about £5.2 million was the starting point, but the agency then undertook additional modelling and ground investigations, which allowed it to produce the more detailed outline designs for the flood storage area. The cost increasing to £10 million is due not to one specific issue, but rather to a number of activities. For example, the reservoir needs to be compliant with the Reservoirs Act 1975 due to its size, resulting in the need for additional safety measures such as safe access routes for operational staff and maintenance vehicles. After appraisal, the cost has been estimated at about £10 million”

Dr Thérèse Coffey went on to say

“Unfortunately, it was found that this proposal had a negative cost-benefit ratio and so was not eligible for any support at all from the £2.6 billion of central Government funding that has been made available over six years.

The cost-benefit ratio works out the cost of a scheme against its benefit (how much damage it will prevent financially during a given time scale).

The next step to prevent further Abingdon Floods on the scale of 2007 must be to look for ways of making the scheme cheaper (whether redesign or challenging it is a reservoir), or see if the partnership can find more money.
Debate on Abingdon Floods
The full debate can be read at It also can be watched on

14 Comments May 20, 2019

Flooding five years ago and Thames at War

Flooding five years ago
Spike sent me this picture of Abingdon – five years ago, showing the River Thames having burst its banks. Thankyou to him.

There is a bigger version (here …)

Last time the River Thames broke its banks was in April 2018. The Thames at War event at the Lock was postponed as a consequence. I read in the Oxford Mail that the event will be held instead on April 14th, 2019.
Flooding five years ago
The WWII Pillbox is between Marcham and Abingdon.

2 Comments January 12, 2019

Reducing flooding in Abingdon – December 2018 Newsletter

Yesterday (on our return from doing The Not Abingdon Blog), I received the latest newsletter from the Environment Agency (EA) about reducing flooding in Abingdon. Here is a summary …
Reducing flooding in Abingdon
The newsletter brings disappointing news concerning the proposed flood storage area for the River Ock west of the A34. This would have held back flood water whenever there is a large deluge that threatens properties. The cost of the project has gone up to around £9.7m., since embankments cannot be built on existing land but need excavated foundations. So far £4m has been pledged by the partnership of local councils and national government. Plans will not be developed further, and the newsletter says ‘Our partnership do not feel there is a realistic prospect of securing this amount of funding in the short term… The scheme will be kept under review.
Reducing flooding in Abingdon
The EA are continuing to investigate natural flood management to hold back water from flooding Abingdon and have employed a project manager to consult with land owners upstream on the River Ock. This would involve measures such as small wood dams,  and planting hedges and woodland to slow river flow.
Reducing flooding in Abingdon
The EA have also been looking at temporary flood barriers, with pumps, to reduce the impact of flooding for specific areas in Abingdon such as Tower Close, Meadowside, Hermitage Road, Healey Close, Potenger Way and Chaunterell Way.

The latest newsletter is not yet on the EA website at but probably will be soon.

(Pictures of flooding from this blog in July 2007.)

4 Comments December 20, 2018

Reducing flood risks in Abingdon

Reducing flood risks
The window of the Community Free Space in Bury Street currently has a display on ‘Reducing flood risks in Abingdon.‘ There were also experts there yesterday to listen and answer people’s questions.

Some of  the information on the display boards can be read at, but the information boards have more detail.

Work continues towards a flood storage area at Abingdon Common, and talks with landowners has begun. A provisional estimate for the scheme is £5m. Timescales are:

  • March 2018 to March 2019 – Development of the flood storage area design and modelling. Continue to investigate complementary options.
  • Spring 2019 – Planning application submission
  • End 2019 – Full Business Case approval
  • 2020 – Estimated construction start date subject to approvals 

10 Comments March 29, 2018

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