Cogges Link Road inquiry: day 10

November 7th, 2011 by Kate Griffin Leave a reply »

This took place on Friday 7th October and began with some housekeeping business: Oxfordshire County Council had submitted a new document (OCC50), dated October 5th. Plans for the traffic lights on Bridge Street were also received. The planning inspector asked non-statutory objectors to submit any additional objections before Tuesday 11th Oct so that he can decide if further sessions need to be scheduled.

The case for the Mawle Trustees continued, with evidence from Dr Chris Whitlow, flooding expert. Key points:

  • The planning permission for the Cogges Link Road (CLR) was conditional, and  the flooding condition has not yet been discharged.
  • Dr Whitlow believes that  a floodplain with multiple channels is a ‘complex’ situation and requires LiDAR data to be used in flood modelling (this is a process where lane flies over the land in question, surveys it with a laser and collects information).
  • Oxfordshire County Council used the Jacobs model, which does not give a full 2D representation. The county’s flood mapping does not show water reaching Blakes School, while extensive photo evidence shows that in reality the 2007 flood water did reach the school.
  • Dr Whitlow’s own modelling shows that the CLR is inferior to Shores Green in terms of flood risk.
  • The county council’s flood model uses Environment Agency from the centre of Witney and not the area across which CLR will go. Local people’s data, which was available to the council, should have been used but was not.
  • Flood mitigation proposals for the CLR have been shown to be inadequate and do not reach the standards required.

Wayne Beglan, lawyer for the Mawle Trust, asked why mitigation is so difficult. Dr Whitlow explained  that the CLR would be on a high embankment and therefore difficult to mitigate. Usually if a road is over a floodplain, it is put on stilts or has flood arches. The Environment Agency’s position is that it is for the planning inspector to judge in this case because they have not yet undertaken a full review. Dr Whitlow also outlined his objections to the Jacobs flood model used by the county council.

David Holgate QC, lawyer for the county, then cross-examined Dr Whitlow. He questioned Dr Whitlow on the relative merits of different flood models: the Environment Agency’s flood mapping model (Halcro) and the county council’s Jacobs model. Dr Whitlow said that the land would still flood with no Cogges Link Road, but that building the road would increase flood depth.

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