Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme - Updates and CPO Information

Closes 1 Dec 2024

Opened 17 May 2021


Compulsory Purchase Order

We have made our Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme. A CPO is a legal process that allows land, property and rights of access to be obtained from a landowner when there is a compelling case that the land is needed in the public interest and can only be applied for where land or access is vital for a scheme to function. It is normal practice when planning a scheme of this scale to run a CPO to ensure all land essential to the working of the scheme is acquired.  

What does the CPO process involve?

Compulsory purchase is a legal process which allows the Environment Agency, as “acquiring authority”, to acquire the land and rights in land needed to build the scheme without the consent of landowners. We made a compulsory purchase order (CPO) on 16 February 2023.

The CPO process has three stages:

  1. Making

This is the process by which an acquiring authority decides that land is required for a specific purpose, and resolves to use compulsory purchase powers to enable the delivery of the proposed scheme.

The Environment Agency made the CPO for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme on 16 February 2023. All affected parties were invited to submit any objections by 02 April 2023.

  1. Confirmation

The Environment Agency does not have the powers to compulsorily acquire land until we receive the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The CPO was submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation on 03 May 2023.

The Secretary of State will now consider the CPO and, if necessary, will hold a public inquiry to consider whether or not the CPO should be confirmed, modified or rejected.

  1. Implementation

Following confirmation of the CPO, the Environment Agency could then implement the CPO by exercising their statutory powers to acquire the rights and interests in land affected by the CPO.

There are two legal routes to achieving this; affected interests will either receive a Notice to Treat and Notice of Entry, or they will receive notification that the acquiring authority has made a General Vesting Declaration. In either case, the acquiring authority can take ownership after the expiry of a 3-month period.

How does this affect me and my rights?

If the CPO is confirmed, it will authorise the Environment Agency to compulsorily purchase the land and rights described in the CPO, for the purpose of its functions relating to flood defence.

If your interest in land is described in the Schedule to the CPO, and the CPO is confirmed by the Secretary of State, the Environment Agency will then have the statutory power to acquire that interest or right.

There is generally a right to compensation if your land is compulsorily acquired. Persons affected by compulsory purchase are under a duty to ‘mitigate losses’, meaning that you would need to take reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce your losses. For example, if you need to employ a removals firm to assist with your move, you should obtain quotes from at least 2 reputable firms. Assuming the firms all offer the same service, instructing the cheapest would be a way of mitigating your loss.

We understand that this process can cause concern. If you have any questions about the CPO, please feel free to contact us on OxfordScheme@environment-agency.gov.uk

What is the target timetable?

The CPO has been submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation. The Secretary of State issued the "relevant date" letter on Wednesday 7 June 2023, confirming that a public inquiry would be held to consider the CPO and remaining objections. The public inquiry is standard procedure when objections are received. This allows an independent inspector to hear the cases for and against the scheme before making a recommendation to the Secretary of State on whether or not the CPO should be confirmed.

The public inquiry began on Tuesday 14 November at 10am. 

It was held at The Kings Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX2 0ES. The inquiry programme, copies of any proofs of evidence sent to or by the promoting authority and all public inquiry procedural information can be found on Helen Wilson's, the independent inquiry Programme Officer, website at https://www.hwa.uk.com/projects/oxford-flood-alleviation-scheme-cpo-inquiry/

A virtual pre-inquiry meeting was held by the Inspector on Thursday 21 September 2023 at 10.00am. This meeting was an opportunity to consider how the public inquiry will be run, to ensure it is conducted as efficiently as possible. For further information, please contact oxfordscheme@environment-agency.gov.uk

If the CPO is confirmed, the Environment Agency could then take steps to implement the CPO commencing in late 2024.

The following schedule outlines the anticipated timetable for the CPO process over the coming months. Please be aware that these dates are our reasonable estimates and are subject to change.

7 June 2023: Secretary of State issues “relevant date” letter.

19 July 2023: Environment Agency submits our "Statement of Case".

14 November 2023: CPO public inquiry begins.

Mid 2024: Estimated date for a decision on the confirmation of the CPO.

If you have not been contacted by us regarding ownership or rights but you think you should have, please email us. More information on the CPO process and compensation can be found on the CPO system page.

We have provided the Statement of Reasons and accompanying maps and documents for the CPO for you below:

More Information

CPO Schedule

The CPO Schedule document sets out the order in terms of its purpose and the land plots to which the order will apply. Schedule 1 sets out the land plots which we intend to purchase (except exchange land* or additional land and new rights). 

Schedule 2 sets out land plots where the exchange land* and additional land to be purchased and vested. 

This document has been removed due to GDPR concerns. Please contact us at oxfordscheme@environment-agency.gov.uk if you would like a copy of it.

*Exchange land refers to land that we intend to purchase as open space land for public access to replace the open space land which is required for the scheme.

Maps of the Individual CPO Plots

The locations of the land plots referred to in the CPO schedule are indicated on the CPO maps. To use this map, please note the scheme area is divided into 16 sheets. Please look at the last page to determine which sheet to use to locate a land plot. 

Statement of Reasons

The Statement of Reasons sets out our justification for using our powers to make the CPO in order to acquire land, and rights over land, for the purposes of constructing and operating the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme.  

Statement of Case

Ahead of the public inquiry, the Environment Agency has published a Statement of Case. This document sets out full particulars of the case to be put forward at the public inquiry and justifies the reasons for making the CPO. It also includes a list of documents which the Environment Agency intends to refer to at the inquiry. The Statement of Case is sent to all objectors to the CPO.

You can also view the CPO documents at the following locations:

Oxfordshire County Library, Oueen Street, Westgate, Oxford OX1 1DJ

Environment Agency, Kings Meadow House, Kings Meadow Road, Reading RG1 8DG

Vale of White Horse District Council, Abbey House, Abbey Close, Abingdon OX14 3JE

More Information

More Information

Planning Statement

Planning Statement Addendum

General Scheme overview and Red Line Boundary

Environmental Statement 

Environmental Statement Addendum

Statement of Community Involvement

Flood Risk Assessment

Contamination Report

Technical Note in response to Regulation 25 request

More Information

Oxford Flood Risk Management Strategy

Thames Catchment Flood Management Plan

Oxfordshire County Council pre-planning response

Oxford Flood Risk Assessment Initial Assessment

Strategic Outline Case and Appendices:

Outline Business Case and Appendices:

Economic Review of Osney Mead Defences

Latest News

Section 19 Application

The Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) will be subject to special Parliamentary procedure unless the Secretary of State for Levelling Up Housing and Communities gives a certificate in accordance with the provisions of section 19 of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981. As part of the application for such a certificate we are required to advertise the Notice of Intention and to provide an opportunity for members of the public to make representations and objections to be made.

The plans and guidance note available below for download provide additional information about the proposals. Any representations or objections sin relation to this proposal should be addressed in writing to:

By email to: PCU@levellingup.gov.uk

By post to:

The Planning Casework Unit, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 23 Stephenson Street, Birmingham B2 4BH

by 23.59 on 12 December 2023 quoting reference PCU/S19/U3100/3321729.

Copies of the draft CPO, the CPO map(s); plans showing the order land, the rights land and the proposed exchange land; and a user-guide to the plans are on deposit at Oxford Westgate Library, 228 The Westgate, Queen Street, Oxford OX1 1PE; and Environment Agency, Kings Meadow House, Kings Meadow Road, Reading RG1 8DG.

Section 19 Notice of Intention

Section 19 User Guide to Accompany Notice Plans


Planning Application Submitted

The planning application for the scheme has been submitted to Oxfordshire County Council as the local planning authority. The council consulted on the planning application from 7 April to 9 May 2022 and subsequently submitted a Regulation 25 request for further information about the application. The response to this has been submitted and the council held a consultation on our response. All the information submitted to the council is available to read on the Oxfordshire County Council ePlanning system, planning reference: MW.0027/22.

Highway Orders and Maps

The Environment Agency must permanently divert a number of footpaths to enable the construction of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme. Suitable alternatives will be provided. A number of footpath acquisition extinguishment orders have been submitted alongside the Compulsory Purchase Order for the scheme. Please find the sealed highway orders and accompanying maps below.

Devil's Backbone order and map.

Hinksey Causeway order and map.

South East Weir's Mill Lane order and map.

South Hinksey order and map.


Please click on each item below for more detail.

More Information

We have conducted wildlife surveys across the scheme area to ensure that we are avoiding and minimising disturbance to plants and animals as much as we can.

More Information

When we designed the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme, we looked at moving the excavated material such as earth and gravel by rail. At the time of our previous planning application, the rail sidings were already in use, and we planned instead to move surplus material by road. Since then, local residents asked us to re-look at the rail option.
We are submitting a separate planning application for a temporary access track to the Hinksey Rail Sidings. The track will run from our proposed working area for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme, north of South Hinksey village, to the rail sidings. If planning permission is granted, we will have the option of removing a significant amount of the waste material off site by rail. Agreements with the operator of Hinksey Rail Sidings will also need to be in place to enable us to remove the waste material.
Removing waste material by rail will reduce traffic pressure on the roads, in particular the A34. The material will be taken to sites which already have planning permission for environmental restoration, such as former quarry sites.
The temporary access track was not included in the main planning application because we do not know whether the rail sidings will be available at the time we need them. Construction cannot commence until all approvals are obtained. Therefore, our main planning application proposes all waste material is transported offsite by road.

More Information

The Environmental Vision is our long-term plan to support the effective management of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme area. We have a detailed programme in place to maintain the scheme operationally and to establish and manage habitats for at least the next 100 years.
Once we have all the necessary approvals and are nearing construction of the scheme, we will appoint an environmental partner who will lease the Environment Agency owned land once the scheme is in place. They will be responsible for looking after the wildlife and landscapes of the scheme area in the long term. They will work alongside our operational team to bring additional environmental enhancements, involve local people and community groups, establish opportunities for scientific research and visit schools to teach children about the work we do to protect and enhance the environment.
Earth Trust is helping us set the foundations for this approach. They are advising us on the development of plans for how the eventual land management of the completed scheme should function to deliver the long term environmental, climate and human health and wellbeing benefits of the scheme.


Keep up to date with our latest news

You can read our e-newsletter to find out the latest updates for our scheme. Email us at Oxfordscheme@environment-agency.gov.uk to request to be added to our mailing list to receive our e-newsletter directly in the future.

Next Steps

Subject to all approvals, we currently anticipate construction to begin in 2024. We then expect construction to take up to 5 years. The A423 Kennington bridge in the southern end of the scheme area needs to be replaced by Oxfordshire County Council due to deterioration. The bridge is crucial to the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme as floodwater from the scheme needs to pass underneath the bridge to rejoin the River Thames. So, we also need to coordinate our construction with the replacement of the A423 Kennington bridge.

Construction would then start from the north and we anticipate it will take 3 years to complete the areas north of Old Abingdon Road. We can begin building the southern part of the scheme once Oxfordshire County Council have completed the replacement A423 Kennington Railway Bridge. For more information on the A423 bridge, please refer to the Oxfordshire County Council website.

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