EUROPEAN Union funding could be available for flood defences such as the proposed £125m flood relief channel plan for Oxford.

Oxford-based MEP Catherine Bearder is urging Oxfordshire to seek EU funds.

It comes after it was revealed there is a £75m shortfall for the £125m Western Conveyance scheme for a flood channel running west of the city.

The EU has regional development funding set aside for 2014 to 2020 to mitigate the impact of climate change.

The Liberal Democrat has contacted Oxfordshire County Council and district councils to offer advice on how they can work together to get cash.

She said: “I want to work with councils at county and district levels, along with the Local Enterprise Partnership, to ensure they get the funding they need.

“The floods have been horrendous and have devastated so many across Oxfordshire over the festive and New Year season.

“I am now offering my support to work with the councils to obtain these much-needed funds.

“I was so pleased to see measures for mitigating the effects of climate change included in the new round of regional development funding.”

She was unable to say how much EU funding might be available, but Mrs Bearder said: “This will mean Oxfordshire has a real chance of getting the funding it so badly needs.

“I hope these councils will now work with me to obtain this funding, which offers the real potential to keep Oxfordshire drier and safer.”

The channel would run from Seacourt Stream, Botley, to Sandford Lock south of Oxford.

The Environment Agency has set aside about £38m, with another £12m from the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, which brings together councils from across the region.

County council deputy leader Rodney Rose said: “I will take money from anywhere if it will protect Oxfordshire from flooding, and funding could help to pay for the Western Conveyance.

“We are happy to talk to Catherine Bearder and other MEPs about this.”

Oxford Flood Alliance spokesman Peter Rawcliffe said: “It’s a good idea to explore if money could come from the European Union because £75m for the flood channel is a large amount to find.

“Council leaders should certainly work with MEPs to see what money is available.”