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18 March 2011, 06:00
£15 million is being spent on defences to protect 500 homes and businesses in Banbury, including the railway station, after the town flooded in 1998 and 2007.
The main aspect of the scheme will reduce the risk of river (fluvial) flooding to a 1 in 200 year standard, protecting 441 residential and 73 commercial properties including Banbury Railway Station and Grimsbury Water Treatment Works.
The scheme will require work to be completed at four locations, the largest part being a flood storage area upstream of the M40. Whilst this element greatly reduces flooding within Banbury it does not eliminate it, so localised flood defences are also required at Wildmere Industrial Estate, Tramways Industrial Estate and Moorfield Brook.
Some parts of the scheme have already been completed. The Environment Agency has built Moorfield Brook Pumping Station, which protects more than 300 houses in the Grimsbury area from flooding.
Tony Baldry, local MP for Banbury, said:
"Ministers have described this as a model scheme bringing together public and private funding for the benefit of the whole town. I am very pleased to see the final phase of this important scheme get underway. This flood alleviation scheme will provide Banbury residents in my constituency with a much higher level of protection from flooding, as well as benefiting the local environment for local people".
Environment Agency area flood risk manager Barry Russell, told Heart:
"This flood scheme is great news for homes and businesses in Banbury that have been affected by flooding. We’ve had a huge challenge trying to reduce the risk of flooding to this area. We’ve been learning from the experience, going through a public inquiry, and worked hard to ensure the final stage of the scheme is completed. But we’re now pressing ahead with the job we’re here to do. We can’t stop flooding completely but in Banbury we’ve taken action to reduce the risk."
Councillor George Reynolds, Cherwell District Council's portfolio holder for environment, recreation and health, added:
"This is fantastic news for all those residents and businesses affected by disastrous floods in the past two decades. I'm sure this work would not have been possible without the council's £2 million funding and other large contributions from firms in the area."
In addition, the scheme includes the creation of over 12 hectares of new habitat and a new circular walk north of Banbury. The habitat has been created as a result of building the flood storage area, and includes a circular walk around the area.