Flood Management in Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Soft Engineering is used in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. It sits on the River Thames and River Ock floodplains. 1500 properties have a 1 percent chance of flooding each year. Abingdon has recent floods most recently in 2007. These intense storms in July 2007 caused bad flash floods flooding 660 properties. Hard engineering techniques have been rejected for various reasons (eg. Diversion Spillway – too expensive, Flood Barrier – increase flood risk downstream)

Defences used include:

  • Land Use Management – Low value land allowed to flood such as Tilsley Park Sports ground. Restrictions on building on Thames flood plain, Tesco made to revise extension plans – include soakaways and permeable tarmac.
  • Flood Warning – Voluntary flood wardens communicate advice and warnings, Environment Agency 24 hour floodline, more detailed advice on the internet.
  • Planting trees to increase interception


Downsides of soft engineering;

  • Difficult to measure success as it’s hard to know how the river would behave without the soft engineering techniques.
  • Flood warnings issued in early 2008. Ock Flood Plain didn’t flood, Thames did but land use management meant very few properties were affected. The 2008 floods did less damage than previous years. No lives lost and only a few injuries.


River Quaggy – South East London near Greenwich and Lewisham

Since 1960s has been heavily managed by artificial channels (hard engineering) but flood risk continued to rise due to urbanisation of the area.  Quaggy Waterwaterways action group – QWAG) campaigned for a sustainable approach to improve local environment.  They suggested that the river should be restored with its floodplain in Sutcliffe Park.



  • Significantly Cheaper than channel straightening
  • Created a natural area in London


  • Area can now flood more seriously.