Those fields of plastic tubes

In the August/September issue I wrote an explanation about the ‘fields of plastic tubes’ and I thought it might be of interest to bring you up to date as it could affect a significant number of people living in Milton and Shipton.
There was an open meeting at the Milton village hall on 7th November attended by about sixty people followed by a visit to some parts of the Bruern Estate where trees have been planted, bunds have been created and woody dams have been constructed. The purpose of the scheme is to prevent flooding in the villages in the event of a 2007- type rainfall.

Unfortunately, I chose the wrong year to plant trees. We actually planted 22,702 trees of which 9548 died owing to lack of rain during the summer. 2610 hadn’t been planted because it was too wet in April: they have now been planted and the 9548 have been replanted. Although we have received a small grant from the Environment Agency who agreed that there was an element of force majeure, the extra cost to the Bruern Estate has been £11,450 and it would have been more if the Cotswold Wardens hadn’t helped us to replant. They have been marvellous, and they do it for the love of the countryside. Thank you Cotswold Wardens.

Of the trees planted, about 40% are oak and the remainder are a combination of sweet chestnut, poplar, willow, hornbeam, silver birch, hazel, wild service tree and spindle tree. The poplars and willows have been planted nearest the brooks. In time, and assuming growth is more successful this time around, the biodegradable plastic sleeves will be removed and the plantations returned to a more natural appearance.

We have also finished phase two of the woody dams and bunds part of the operation. Many of you will have noticed the changes in the field through which the bridleway passes from Milton to Grange Farm. The whole scheme is being closely monitored by Wild Oxfordshire and the Evenlode Catchment Partnership with the idea of using it on other farms where flooding is a problem. Of course, we won’t know whether the scheme is entirely successful until we have an apocalyptic flood but I am convinced that the effect of heavy rainfall will be mitigated and the houses at the Heath should feel less threatened.

David Astor

April – May 2019