MORE than £100,000 will be spent repairing a damaged bank of the River Windrush after several failed attempts.

The breach west of Woodford Mill, Witney, is expected to be fixed by the end of October after West Oxfordshire District Council's cabinet approved a £107,000 scheme on Wednesday.

The bank started leaking last year and subsequently collapsed, causing a nearby weir to virtually dry up and raising fears for wildlife.

Residents have criticised the lack of progress, but the district council's cabinet member for environment, Norman MacRae, claimed the work would 'stand the test of time'.

Read also: Repairs to damaged bank are delayed

He said: “We elected for the most expensive option to ensure it's a meaningful and lasting repair.

“We have to do it under the Environment Agency’s guidance. These things take time and we’re working as hard as we can.”

Residents first told the agency about the leak last year, but the organisation deemed it insufficient to warrant a full investigation.

Witney Gazette:

Several months later the bank collapsed, with the new channel leaving very little water flowing to the weir.

West Oxfordshire District Council was found to be responsible for the bank in March and its cabinet approved a £45,000 project for temporary repairs one month later.

But work to install a temporary dam in June was scuppered by heavy rainfall, with several failed attempts costing £15,000.

Read also: Raft race cancelled due to polluted river

Residents grew increasingly concerned about the impact of the breach on the environment as the water level of the weir dropped.

Richard Langridge, independent district councillor for Witney North, said: “I have never seen the Windrush in such an awful state.

"The river is incredibly important to Witney and it’s proper maintenance is absolutely vital to prevent the devastating flooding that we have seen in the recent past."

Witney Gazette:

The agency has confirmed the breach does not carry a flood risk, while several old metal drums that became visible due to the sinking water level do not pose a threat of pollution.

It added that it was the council's decision to remove the drums, but they will 'provide some underwater habitat if they are left in place'.

Read also: Emergency services attend river rescue

The £107,000 comprises of £87,000 of the council's reserve funds and £20,000 left over from earlier attempts to fix the breach.

Temporary dams will be used to create a safe working area, before a reinforced concrete retaining wall is built to form the reinstated riverbank.

But a report into the breach added that the integrity of the riverbank downstream of the repairs 'cannot be guaranteed due to the amount of trees, crayfish holes and level of silt' in the channel.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We are pleased to learn that cabinet has approved a budget for the repair.

“We will process the required application for a Flood Risk Activity Permit as soon as we have received the details of the proposals and have had a chance to examine them.”