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Ordinary watercourses land drainage consent

Applying for ordinary watercourse land drainage consent.

Since 6 April 2012 we have been responsible for authorising consent to individuals, companies, group of individuals and public bodies, who wish to carry out changes to an ordinary watercourse that may affect flow or flood risk.

From this date, those who wish to make changes to an ordinary watercourse must gain written consent from us prior to carrying out such works.

Under the Land Drainage Act 1991 Section 23 the erection or alteration of any mill dam, culvert, weir or other like obstruction to the flow of an ordinary watercourse requires consent from the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA).

The regulation consists of two elements:

  • the issuing of consents for any changes to ordinary watercourses that might obstruct or alter the flow of an ordinary watercourse
  • enforcement action to rectify unlawful and potentially damaging work to a watercourse  

Consent under the above legislation is required for both permanent and temporary works.

Even if you have planning permission or other consents you will still require consent from us for work to ordinary watercourses. Main rivers are regulated by the Environment Agency.

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.

An authorised consent from us for any such changes to the watercourse is important, as any changes have the potential to increase flood risk to people and property, either those upstream or downstream and often unconnected to the works in question.

You are encouraged to contact us in advance of applying for consent so that we can discuss your requirements, provide advice and ensure that your application is completed correctly. Before completing your application please review the application guidance notes about ordinary watercourse land drainage consents. 

Contact us by email at: or tel: 01629 538563 or 01629 539286.

Enforcement action against unconsented works

In the case of works undertaken without consent, and where we deem that consent would have been required, works cannot be retrospectively consented.

Enforcement action may be taken where damaging or potentially damaging works on ordinary watercourses have been undertaken without the necessary consent. Enforcement action may also be taken where consented works have been undertaken in a manner contravening the consent. Where such works have been carried out enforcement powers are available to the LLFA, which include:

  • an advice letter to the individual reminding them of the requirements of their consent
  • a letter to warn the individual that their actions are in breach of the consenting legislation
  • a notice enforcing remedial action or prohibiting an activity from being carried out
  • direct remedial action, plus a recharge or the costs of such actions and possible prosecution

Upon receipt of an application, there is a time limit of two months to grant or refuse consent.

The application isn’t approved until you receive formal consent. Such consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.

Terms and conditions

You are responsible for ensuring any works are carried out in accordance with the consent and any other associated legislation.

You must ensure the contractors carrying out the works are fully aware of the consent and its conditions.

Apply for ordinary watercourse land drainage consent by downloading and completing an ordinary watercourse land drainage consent application form.

You can email your completed applications form to or post to:

Derbyshire County Council 
Flood Risk Management Team 
County Hall