Witney is worth good flood protection

Sir – We are in yet another period of avoidable flooding.

The newly-formed Witney Anti-flood Group would like to invite individuals and businesses affected by flooding in Witney, especially in the Bridge Street area, to get in touch with us at witneydry@gmail.com

Witney is not merely at the mercy of the elements.

We have a ‘housekeeping problem’: a small, full river running across our main street which needs regular clearing.

The Environment Agency claims it will desilt the River Windrush as soon as it has gone down sufficiently. That is good, if the promise is held, but desilting in October would have saved enormous cost and distress.

When the river was desilted in 2008, the water course remained stable. Desilting the Windrush gives an excellent return, if one considers the impact of flood threat and damage to Witney property and people.

Flooding puts existing businesses at risk and will deter start-ups in Witney, as well as being a threat to homeowners.

We would therefore seek a commitment from West Oxfordshire Council to ensure that desilting occurs, with or without the collaboration of the Environment Agency, at least once a year before the regular downpours.

The agency has told us that it is currently completing an initial assessment for Witney which will “look at what’s possible to take forward for investigation/appraisal”.

We look forward to hearing their report presented at one of our next meetings. A report without action would be an insult.

Nationally, the Government needs to agree a risk-sharing strategy across all UK insurance companies, to cover citizens against natural disasters.

This will help to focus thought nationally on how to forestall wind and water damage in our towns and countryside.

We note that Banbury, after the 2007 flooding, had £17m of flood protection put in place. Witney, we believe, is worth as much.

Agnes Kocsis, Paula Flynn, Abigail Green, Jonathan Green, Lawrence Haar, Heather Pike, Tony Stark, Witney Anti-flood Group, Bridge Street, Witney

Comments (2)

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3:37pm Fri 31 Jan 14

dyau123 says...

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1 dyau123

10:14am Tue 11 Feb 14

Fred Chilvers says...

What exactly do the writers of this letter mean by "desilting"? Have they costed annual Windrush desilting? What would be the effect of increasing river flow from the Windrush into the Thames?

Is it possible that the course of action this new group is advocating would be highly detrimental to communities living downstream in the Thames valley?

Of course we need to protect Witney residents from flooding but the best solution might be to ensure that upstream of Witney there is effective flood plain protection and a means of regulating the flow so that other communities downstream of Witney do not pat a high price for the protection of Witney properties.
What exactly do the writers of this letter mean by "desilting"? Have they costed annual Windrush desilting? What would be the effect of increasing river flow from the Windrush into the Thames? Is it possible that the course of action this new group is advocating would be highly detrimental to communities living downstream in the Thames valley? Of course we need to protect Witney residents from flooding but the best solution might be to ensure that upstream of Witney there is effective flood plain protection and a means of regulating the flow so that other communities downstream of Witney do not pat a high price for the protection of Witney properties. Fred Chilvers

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