MORE than £1m will be needed to carry out a range of priority schemes for flood defence and alleviation in Witney and West Oxfordshire over the next three years.

That is one of the headline conclusions of the long-awaited Final Flooding Report in the wake of the devastation of July 2007.

It is, however, a fraction of an estimated £19.4m of work highlighted in detailed surveys carried out in all 49 West Oxfordshire towns and parishes that were affected.

Some has already been done, while a lot more depends on future funding.

More than 1,600 homes and businesses in the district were hit by some level of flooding, and, as of last week, there were still about 16 households living away waiting for damage to their homes to be repaired (See Page 4).

The report brings together all the surveys, as well as analysis of the impact of the 2007 flood and what needs to be done in the future.

The Environment Agency, Thames Water and parish, district and county councils have all had an input.

On the cost side, the district council has already submitted a bid for about £900,000 of Government money to carry out 19 priority schemes for improving watercourses, including ditches and rivers.

A further £100,000 has been flagged up on highways and drainage issues to be carried out by the county council.

Another £55,000 is required for anti-flooding work at Kilkenny Lane Country Park, in Carterton.

All are capital schemes and the cost could be spread over the next three years.

But there is more to come.

West Oxfordshire District Council leader, Barry Norton, hinted this week that some landowners could soon face enforcement action over work to clear ditches and watercourses on private land.

He said: “It is now near the end of 2008, and some people still have not done the work we have asked them to do.

“They need to get their act together shortly, and enforcement proceedings could be in the pipeline.” A major conclusion of the floods in West Oxfordshire – which suffered the most widespread damage in the county – is that, although the rivers Thames, Windrush and Evenlode burst their banks, lack of maintenance on ditches and drains had a massive impact.

And there is still another significant report to come, probably within the next week or two.

The district council has engaged the Scott Wilson Group to identify areas throughout the district where future development is a risk because of flooding.

The company, based in Birmingham, is a worldwide leader in the planning, engineering and environmental needs of property and transport schemes.

Mr Norton added: “We are one of the few districts in the country to ensure we have this kind of expert advice.

“It raises issues about the future, and how we can help avoid future flooding.

“Together with the Final Flooding report, we are getting down to the very basics of stopping it happening again.”

This week, the Environment Agency announced it had increased the number of flood warning areas along the River Thames and catchment areas of the Windrush and Evenlode.

The warnings will now be targeted on smaller, more specific areas, and residents can use new quick dial numbers for information.

For full details go to the Environment Agency website.

The 19 major schemes identified as priorities involve flood defence walls, water storage areas and changes to watercourses at: Clanfield, Brize Norton, Bampton, Madley Brook, in Witney, the Highmoor and Shill Brook, Little Stock Brook, Milton-under-Wychwood Mill Pool, Station Road, in Eynsham, the Colwell Brook, in Witney, Barnard Gate, Broadwell and Kencot, Asthall, Kelmscott, Asthall Leigh and Fordwells, Burford, Westwell, Ascott-under-Wychwood, and the length of the River Windrush in west Oxfordshire.