Information and advice for lead local flood authorities issuing consents and undertaking enforcement action to manage activities and flood risk on ordinary watercourses.
On 6 April 2012, when a further phase of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 was implemented, responsibility for regulating activities on ordinary watercourses in most areas of England and Wales transferred from the Environment Agency to lead local flood authorities. Lead local flood authorities are Unitary Authorities where they exist and county councils elsewhere.
Who is now responsible for managing ordinary watercourse activities?
In an Internal Drainage District area (about 10 per cent of the country)
|Where the Environment Agency acts as the internal drainage board (IDB).
||Where the Environment Agency does not act as the internal drainage board.
|Environment Agency continues to undertake ordinary watercourse regulation.
||The local internal drainage board continue to undertake ordinary watercourse regulation.
Other than in an Internal Drainage District area (about 90 per cent of the country)
| Ordinary watercourse regulation is the responsibility of the lead local flood authority.
Advice note for lead local flood authorities
This advice note is to assist lead local flood authorities in this new role in England.
Similar advice to assist lead local flood authorities in their new role in Wales has been produced by Welsh Government.
E Learning for lead local flood authorities
What is regulation and why is it important?
'Regulation' is the management of activity that creates obstructions to flow in watercourses to ensure that flood risk is managed appropriately. It involves giving consent for acceptable work to be carried out and taking enforcement action if work is unacceptable.
This is very important as work that is carried out without consent has the potential to increase flood risk to people and property, including those unconnected with the works.
Activities on ordinary watercourses that require consent are those likely to cause an obstruction to flow or restrict storage and include culverting, bridges, weirs etc.
The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 has amended the Land Drainage Act 1991 so that all culverts now require consent before the work is carried out. For the first time it allows reasonable conditions, such as specifying a time limit for completion of works, to be attached to consents.
What is an ordinary watercourse?
An 'ordinary watercourse' is defined as a 'watercourse' that is not a 'main river'.
A statutory map showing 'main rivers' is available from the Environment Agency. Contact us to view a copy.
A non-statutory map of main rivers is available on What's in your back yard?