Sir – The Oxfordshire Flood Management Strategy proposes a large and expensive engineering solution in the form of a new western watercourse to deal with the growing threat of flooding in Oxford.
The Oxfordshire Green Party recognises the imperative to protect those at risk of having their homes flooded. We are, however, concerned that the strategy does not address sufficiently the relationship between flooding and climate change.
The strategy concentrates primarily on diverting excess flood waters around Oxford, but should be more broadly focused. Climate change will bring major changes to the Thames Valley in terms of rainfall, higher temperatures and the resulting impact on ecology and vegetation.
We think that natural means of controlling flooding by the development in the Upper Thames catchment of forestr and wetlands, including large-scale creation of ponds and swales, will greatly improve the situation in the long term.
Forestry too will have the advantage of absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere and having cooling effects which could moderate locally the impact of climate change. Trees too could have plenty of economic benefits in terms of more carbon-neutral fuel resources, provision of wood products and local food production, particularly fruit and nuts.
We would like to see the Environment Agency develop a strategy in consultation with Defra and the many local and national organisations involved with agriculture, forestry and ecology.
We recognise this is a longer-term approach and that to meet emergency situations in the short term there may well be a case for a western watercourse.
We consider, however, that we still need more information about the effectiveness and impact of this engineering proposal.
Meanwhile, there is an urgent need to incorporate policies and proposals for the long term in the strategy right now, if they are to succeed in the future.
Judy Chipchase and Kaihsu Tai Oxfordshire Green Party