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Ordinary Watercourse Maintenance and Land Drainage Consent

Ordinary watercourses are an important part of flood risk management.

Ordinary watercourses are channels through which water can flow and that do not form part of the classified main river networks; such as streams, drains, open ditches, culverts and surface water sewers.

Who is responsible for ordinary watercourses?

Many ordinary watercourses are not owned by the Local Authority or Highways Authority but are the responsibility of the adjacent land owner under riparian ownership. It is not the responsibility of us to carry out maintenance or improvement works in these areas. The land owner will be required to ensure that their section of the ordinary watercourse is maintained throughout the year by making sure it is kept clear of blockages and any structures have no sign of collapse.

Under the Land Drainage Act 1991 we have the power to enforce land owners to maintain their section of an ordinary watercourse. 

Works within an ordinary watercourse

Culverting or works which may affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse require our prior written consent under the terms of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, Land Drainage Act 1991 and Water Resources Act 1991. If an obstruction or structure is built within the watercourse without the correct consents, we may serve notice under the landowner under Section 25 of the Land Drainage Act 1991, whereby the necessary works will be undertaken to remove the obstruction.

Anyone wishing to apply for consent can use the Land Drainage Consent application form

Please note there is a charge of £50 per structure/application.

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