Banbury £17m flood defences scheme opens

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New £17m flood defences set up in an Oxfordshire town after a river burst its banks five years ago will officially open later.

The new flood alleviation scheme was built in Banbury after the River Cherwell flooded in 2007.

It will reduce the flood risk to more than 500 properties in the town, including the railway station and football club.

The Environment Agency said parts of the scheme were tested in the spring.

After the wettest April in more than 100 years, flows on the River Cherwell rose high enough for the new flood storage area to begin holding back water as it flowed downstream towards the town.

New park

This was the first time the storage area, which holds water equivalent to 1,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools, was used since becoming operational.

The two tanks release water slowly, reducing the risk of flooding.

Within the town, low walls and earth embankments have been built to protect buildings and an 850m (half-mile) section of the A361 has been raised and culverts installed underneath.

The scheme also included the creation of a park with a circular walk north of Banbury.

Ian Tomes, EA's flood and coastal risk manager, said: "Reducing the risk to 441 residential and 73 businesses will make a huge difference to those that were affected during the 1998 and more recently, the 2007 floods.

"Being flooded is devastating and we can never completely eliminate the risk of flooding.

"So we would always encourage people to know their flood risk and sign up to our free Floodline service so they know when flooding may be expected and have a plan ready in case the worst happens."

Councillor Barry Wood, Cherwell District Council leader, said: "We have just been through one of the wettest summers on record, perhaps not the most welcome but certainly a timely test of Banbury's new flood defences.

"They appear to have coped admirably, operating just as intended, helping protect residents and businesses from a repeat of the devastation we saw in 2007.

"I am pleased that the council, along with businesses in the town, were able to help fund this work which would otherwise not have happened."

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