Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme - Welcome

Closed 31 May 2021

Opened 17 May 2021





What is the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme?

The Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme will create a new stream with wetland wildlife corridor to the west of Oxford to reduce flood risk in the city and surrounding areas. 

The scheme will reduce flood risk to all properties in Oxford currently at risk of flooding from the River Thames, as well as to the railway, Botley and Abingdon Roads, other local roads, utilities and services such as broadband. As well as directly benefiting residents this will keep the city open for business in times of flood, helping protect Oxford’s thriving economy. The scheme will also bring additional environmental improvements to the area, including creating new wetland which will link up existing wildlife sites. Wetland habitats support plants and animals adapted to living in a wet environment and are in decline across the country. Creating over 20 hectares of new wetland and around 16 hectares of floodplain meadow throughout the area will be a valuable benefit of the scheme.

The new stream and gently sloping wetland and grazing pasture will blend into the existing landscape and work with the natural floodplain. The stream and lowered ground alongside it reduce flood risk by creating more space for floodwater away from built-up areas.

Visualisation of the new stream

Impression of the new stream, viewed from Devil's Backbone

The scheme will be approximately 5 km long, starting just north of Botley Road and passing under the A423 Kennington Railway Bridge (Southern by-pass) to the south before re-joining the River Thames.

This major project is being led by the Environment Agency working together with 9 organisations dedicated to reducing Oxford’s flood risk and providing wider benefits to Oxfordshire. Our scheme is designed to cope with floods of a major scale, to help protect the city in coming decades as flood risk increases with climate change. The scheme forms part of a wider programme to improve flood resilience being planned by the Environment Agency across the Thames Valley area.

The scheme partners are:

  • Environment Agency
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • Oxford City Council
  • Vale of White Horse District Council
  • Thames Water
  • Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee
  • Oxford Flood Alliance
  • Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership
  • University of Oxford
  • Highways England

Why we are engaging with you now

We will be submitting a new planning application for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme this winter. We had submitted a planning application in March 2018, but withdrew it when Oxfordshire County Council discovered that the A423 bridge needs replacing. The bridge is in the south of the scheme area and is essential to the scheme as floodwater will need to pass underneath it. When it was discovered the bridge needed replacing we took the opportunity to work with the county council to coordinate both projects.

We would like to inform you here about the updates we’ve made. The scheme remains the same overall design as in our previous planning application, with necessary changes made around the A423 bridge area. We have also used the time since our last application to make progress with our environmental benefits and improve some aspects of how we build the scheme.

We provide background information to the scheme, including how it will work, what it will look like and its environmental features on Page 2 - Background and benefits.

The main updates since our previous planning application are all set out in detail on Page 3 - Scheme updates.  

Next steps

We intend to submit our planning application this winter. Once we submit our new planning application, Oxfordshire County Council will consult the public as part of the formal planning application process on the proposed scheme.

The flood problem in Oxford will get worse with climate change and it’s only a matter of time before we see a major flood. We want to ensure Oxford’s communities are as protected as possible from the increased floods we’ll see in coming decades. This is why we’re working to bring a sustainable long-term solution to the city. Our aim is for the new stream and wetland wildlife corridor to be a cherished asset for the local community, benefiting people and the environment for decades to come. We will need to obtain planning permission in order to proceed with the scheme and value the support of local communities in achieving this.

Approvals needed before construction of the scheme can begin

Separate from the planning process we are talking with landowners and other affected parties to reach agreements over the land we’ll need for the scheme. It’s normal practice when planning a scheme of this scale to submit a compulsory purchase order (CPO). This allows land and rights over land to be obtained when they are needed in the public interest. It’s always our aim to reach land agreements directly with landowners. However, with a scheme of this size, we will be submitting a CPO to ensure we have access to all the land essential for the scheme to work.


Stay in touch as the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme progresses:


Next page: Background and benefits


  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Fishing clubs and representative associations
  • Members of the public with an interest in the river, the species and conservation
  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Academics
  • Environment Agency customers
  • Environment Agency colleagues


  • Flood management
  • Habitats and wildlife