Oxford and Abingdon: Reducing Flood Risk

Reducing Flood Risk

Following flooding in early 2014, flood risk management options for Oxford and Abingdon are being reviewed and progressed as the Oxford and Abingdon scheme.

Flood modelling completed in 2013, and increased local interest in finding flooding solutions, prompted the Environment Agency to begin a formal review of the Oxford flood risk management strategy recommendations in March 2014.

The Oxford and Abingdon scheme is being progressed by the Environment Agency and Oxfordshire County Council (Lead Local Flood Authority), in partnership with organisations on the sponsoring group.

The sponsoring group consists of representatives from each of the 3 local councils, Oxfordshire County Council (Lead Local Flood Authority), Oxford City Council and Vale of White Horse District Council, the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), other private partners and the Environment Agency.

The group has been set up to make important decisions about the Oxford and Abingdon scheme and to secure and approve partnership funding.

Across Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley, the Environment Agency is continuing to investigate a number of measures to reduce flood risk – these include permanent flood defences and working with communities to help them become more resilient to the impacts of flooding.


The River Thames and its tributaries, in and around Oxford, have a long history of flooding. More than 4,300 homes (over 6,000 taking into account climate change) and businesses are within a 1 in 100 year floodplain (1% or greater risk of flooding in any one year).

Oxford has a long history of flooding – most recently in 2000, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Roads, the railway line, schools and businesses were affected and are still at risk from flooding.

The Oxford flood risk management strategy sets out a sustainable solution to reduce flood risk to people and properties, while conserving and enhancing Oxford’s very special environment. It was adopted following a public consultation in 2010, and sets out the preferred approach for managing the risk of flooding in Oxford and the surrounding area.

The Environment Agency has completed the first phases of this strategy and £2.5 million has been spent on dredging channels, increasing the capacity of structures and providing temporary defences.

The Environment Agency has already:

– carried out maintenance on the city’s river network;

– worked with partners to reduce the risk of river flooding to properties;

– made engineering improvements to the city’s river system;

– removed silt and overgrown vegetation along stretches of the Bulstake Stream, Hinksey Stream, Hinksey Drain and Seacourt Stream;

– provided demountable barriers to reduce flood risk for properties at Osney Island and Hinksey Park.

This work helped to protect up to 150 properties in the 2014 floods. The Environment Agency also committed to review the longer term options in the strategy, to mitigate flooding on a larger scale at a later date.


Abingdon is situated on the River Thames, Ock and Stert and has a long history of flooding. There are more than 550 properties at risk of flooding in the Abingdon area and roads and businesses are also at risk. Abingdon experienced flooding in 2000, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and again in early 2014 from the Rivers Ock, Stert and Thames. The most significant of these was in 2007, when 433 residential properties and 21 businesses flooded.

The impact of flooding in recent events has been lower but there have still been isolated properties flooded and wider areas affected.

Under the overview of the Oxford and Abingdon scheme sponsoring group, a number of projects are being progressed for Abingdon. The Environment Agency is assessing all previous studies carried out in Abingdon and working with Vale of White Horse (VoWH) to identify the most appropriate solutions.

A potential flood storage area on the River Ock, upstream of the A34, an additional flood storage area and localised culvert improvements in the River Stert catchment are all being investigated. A flood wall and property level protection at St Helen’s Mill is also being reviewed as part of this work.

Press Release, September 18, 2014