Save Hinksey Meadows from the destructive channel in the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme

Save Hinksey Meadows from the destructive channel in the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme

14 April 2022
Signatures: 5,184Next Goal: 7,500
64 people signed this week

Why this petition matters

The Environment Agency has submitted a planning application for the £123 million Oxford Flood Alleviation  Scheme. 

Oxford desperately needs an effective flood scheme but a destructive and ineffective 3 mile flood channel through the rare Hinksey Meadows would wreck the local environment and could cause biodiversity collapse in Oxford’s wildlife corridor. This channel is the most destructive and expensive part of the plan but the least effective. 85% of the scheme’s flood-risk reduction comes from maintaining existing defenses and new floodwalls and other earthworks.   

Experts say this experimental channel is fundamentally flawed because it:

Makes no economic sense:

- costs £23 million but provides only 5% of the reduction in flood risk.

- only reduces the risk to just 54 houses more than if there were no channel through Hinksey Meadow (houses that could be protected by more environmentally friendly and effective methods).

-  the effectiveness is threatened by only providing a maintenance budget for 10-15 years, for a scheme that runs for 100 years

Destroys the rare biodiverse habitat of Hinksey Meadow

-  the channel would dig up 3 acres of nationally important, ecologically rich floodplain on Hinksey Meadow containing the nationally rare MG4a grassland

- threatens ALL of Hinksey Meadow (by the effect of the channel on the local hydrology) which itself protects against flooding, stores carbon, is an immensely biodiverse habitat and is home to rare plants such as fritillaries and creeping marshwort. 

- Only 4 square miles of this habitat left in the UK, an area the size of Heathrow Airport. As rare as Stonehenge today. Hinksey Meadow is a designated Local Wildlife Site and should by government criteria be a Site of Special Scientific Interest

Destroys other local habitats

- 250 acres of agricultural land, 2000+ trees, miles of biodiverse hedgerows and wildlife corridors, at a time of ecological emergency and food insecurity.

-  the homes and wildlife corridors of wildlife incuding badgers, otter, kingfisher and bats. 

-  makes unacheivable promises about ecological and tree-planting mitigation much of which is offsite and/or will take decades to grow to replacement value.

Huge carbon cost

-  emits tonnes of carbon dioxide in construction and excavation of 455 000 m3 (cubic metres = approx. 700,000 tons) soil and gravel and thousands of lorry movement of this spoil around the site and off to other sites

-  carbon storage capacity of floodplain meadows is being shown to be as good as peat bogs. Digging up this carbon rich meadow will release tons of carbon that have been stored for over 1000 years at a time when we are urgently working to reduce our carbon footprint. 

Loss of public amenity

-  alters the iconic landscape painted by JMW Turner and celebrated by Matthew Arnold. Willow Walk and Hinksey Village are famous for Ruskin and the Diggers who included Oscar Wilde and Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley, co-founder of the National Trust. So, it is arguably birthplace of the modern conservation movement.

-  imposes a massive motorway style pedestrian/cycle bridge at Willow Walk and a vehicle bridge at Devil’s Backbone

-  decreases public space by nearly 20 acres

Construction impacts

- will cause pollution and traffic congestion on the A34 for 3-5 years

There is a better alternative to protect Oxford from the flooding risks of climate change

1.  Scrap the flawed channel component of OFAS

2. Look at whole river system and natural flooding solutions to capture water in land upstream by restoring flood meadows, growing food regeneratively and planting new woodland.

3.  Stop building on floodplains and prevent run off from overdevelopment elsewhere

For more information visit


Have your say!

It is important that a large number of people sign the petition to support scrapping the channel that will destroy a historic and nationally important landscape forever. This can help calls for a public inquiry to create a better flood scheme. 


- to launch a public inquiry to scrap the channel and save Oxford’s iconic floodplain meadows and to adopt a more effective, climate friendly whole river flood scheme. 

- re-designate Hinksey Meadow as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.









64 people signed this week
Signatures: 5,184Next Goal: 7,500
64 people signed this week