Making changes to waterways

Information about applying for consent to carry out work that would affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse.

We are responsible for land drainage consents for ordinary watercourses. These are sometimes called flood defence consents.

An ordinary watercourse is every river, stream, ditch, drain, cut, dyke, sluice, sewer (other than a public sewer) and passage that water flows through and doesn't form part of a main river.

The Environment Agency is responsible for consents relating to main rivers and internal drainage boards are responsible for consents in their administrative boundaries. You can find out more about the Environment Agency on the Government website.

Projects requiring consent

Anyone who plans to carry out works in, over, under or near a watercourse or flood defence must receive consent from the relevant authority before starting work.

A land drainage consent is required for:

  • erecting, or altering, any mill, dam, weir or similar obstruction to the flow of any ordinary watercourse
  • constructing a culvert in any ordinary watercourse
  • altering a culvert that would affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse
  • temporary works in an ordinary watercourse, such as scaffolding, a dam, pumping off excessive water or any major drainage work

How to apply for consent

Contact us to start your application. We may be able to advise you that consent is not required or give you advice to help avoid unnecessary delays.

We have also produced a guidance document to help with completing the application form for Ordinary Watercourse Land Drainage Consent.

It is essential the application is completed accurately and for the accompanying information to be clear. Your application could be delayed if any information is missing.

The application fee is £50 per structure or temporary works event. We must formally respond to your application within two months of receiving your application.

 Application form for ordinary watercourse land drainage consent (docx / 40 KB)