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Agenda item

Flood and Thames Water Update


To receive a presentation from Richard Aylard on the Flood and Thames Water update. To receive a presentation from Phil Martin and Laurence King on Environment Agency actions update. 



That the Committee notes the update and comments where necessary.


The Committee received a presentation from Richard Aylard of Thames Water.  A copy of the presentation was circulated to all Councillors after the meeting.

In discussion Councillors expressed concern about the lack of capacity particularly with the new large developments underway. Mr Aylard explained that the main source of the problem was surface water getting into the foul water system.  He added that finances were tight. Ofwat had taken £2 billion from the current 5 year plan. Witney needed £50m of investment. He accepted that there problems further up the Windrush but said it was for the Environment Agency (EA) to decide where phosphorus strippers were sited but that nitrates presented a bigger problem. Thames Water monitor the quality as it leaves the treatment works but the EA is responsible thereafter. 

Mr Aylard described the work underway at Clanfield. He explained the different population figures for Bampton was a result of Thames Water using different figures for the annual return and for generating capacity. He agreed to enter into discussions with the Council on this issue.

The Chair thanked Mr Aylard for his presentation.

The Committee received an update on the Environment Agency’s actions from Phil Martin (Group Manager - Business Support) and Laurence King (Shared Principal Engineer).  Mr Martin referred to the response from the Environment Agency (EA) which had been circulated to Councillors. He suggested going back to the EA asking for further information on the number of permits issued that has been declining year on year, the relatively low level of expenditure on maintenance for 2023/24 and clarification on the water courses that will be included in the proposed modelling exercise.

Mr Martin also highlighted to the Committee that whilst the Council had a specific action in the S19 Flood Report regarding the installation of Gauge boards from Woodford Mill through to Langel Common, it might be worth looking at building in additional resilience to the electronic gauge boards, which are part of the EA’s early warning system, at Worsham as the failure of the existing system compromised the time residents had to prepare for the flood during Christmas 2020. Cllr Cole said that that the existing boards on bridge street were of valued by residents and there was a lot of data collected as a result of having them so advocated Officers look at the feasibility of having both. Mr Martin said he would bring back costings information and an indications as to whether the EA would be prepared to meet the costs to the next meeting.

It was agreed that officers should raise concerns with Oxfordshire County Council about the bridge in Bridge Street where there is no flow on the northern channel.

The Committee resolved to ask the Leader of the Council to write to the Secretary Of State for the Environment calling on him to:

  • Ensure the Environment Agency is fully funded to carry out flood protection and ‘river cleanliness’ works
  • Ensure legislation is light enough to bring forward successful prosecutions of breaches to river pollution
  • Alter Planning Legislation to make the Water Authorities statutory consultees in planning applications

Resolved that the Committee note the update.