Apply for land drainage consent

Consents within Internal Drainage Districts (IDDs)

If you are planning to carry out works on an ordinary watercourse within an Internal Drainage District (IDD) you may need to apply to us for a Land Drainage Consent under Section 23 of the Land Drainage Act (1991).

Why do you need a land drainage consent?

You may need to obtain our permission to ensure that your activities do not cause a risk of flooding or make existing flood risk worse. A consent is also necessary to ensure your work will not interfere with our flood risk management assets or adversely affect the local environment, fisheries or wildlife.

If you do not apply for a land drainage consent, the consequences could be expensive. We can reclaim from you the costs of putting things right and you could also be prosecuted.

What activities need a land drainage consent?

The Land Drainage Act specifies that only certain activities need a land drainage consent. These activities are:

  • Erecting, raising or altering any mill dam, weir or other obstruction to the flow of an ordinary watercourse
  • Erecting a culvert
  • Altering a culvert in a manner that would affect the flow

Location of the proposed works

A main river is legally defined as a watercourse that is shown on a main river map. If the location of your proposed activity is on a main river, you will need to apply for a flood risk activity permit.

If the location of your activity is within an IDD and on a watercourse that is not a main river you may need to apply to us for a land drainage consent.

If the location of your proposed activity is not a main river, and is outside an IDD area, you should contact the authority responsible for that watercourse as you may need to apply for an ordinary watercourse consent. The lead Local Flood Authority for that area will be responsible for distributing these permits and we recommend that you contact them for information and advice.

If you are unsure whether the watercourse in question is a main river, ordinary watercourse, or part of an IDD, please contact us.

Apply for a land drainage consent

Find the application form and supporting guidance note for a land drainage consent.

What to include in your application

When making your application, please ensure you complete the appropriate form (available below) accurately and include the following elements:

  • plans showing the location of your works
  • detailed drawings showing what you wish to do, along with any calculations
  • a method statement for the works, including details of how the works will be carried out and any environmental protection/mitigation measures that will be put in place

Permanent and temporary works

In the application form you will be asked if the works are permanent or temporary.

'Permanent works' generally refer to a structure that will remain in place once construction is complete.

'Temporary works' refer to structures or activities required as part of the construction phase, for example, scaffolding, cofferdams, diversion channels or plant machinery.

Method statements

Consent for temporary works will require detailed method statements stating how the work will be carried out. Temporary works may require a separate land drainage consent to ensure that the construction phase is properly considered.

How much does an application cost?

An application for a land drainage consent is currently £50.00 (VAT exempt) and is payable in respect of each separate structure, channel, pond or other element forming the project.

Where should I send my application and fee?

The application form contains details of where you should send your completed application form and fee. If you need any assistance, you may wish to contact our Customer Care Centre who can help direct you to a member of staff who will deal with your application and payment.

What happens next? 

When we receive your application for a land drainage consent, we check that you have completed your application correctly and submitted the necessary supporting information. We also check that you have submitted the correct application fee. If anything is missing we will let you know.

We then assess your application and decide whether to issue a land drainage consent. We may need to ask for more information during this process in order to fully understand your proposal.

How long does it take? 

We will grant or refuse applications within two months of receiving your application. If we fail to notify you of the determination of your applications, then it is deemed to have been consented.

Our decision on whether or not to grant your application

When making our decision we will consider whether your proposed works are likely to have an impact on flood risk, land drainage and the wider environment. We will also consider other legislation, for example, the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive.

You should bear in mind that receiving permission does not confirm:

  • that your proposals are of sound design
  • that your proposals comply with other legislation, such as health and safety legislation
  • that you have permission to carry out works on land or rivers that you do not own
  • You must have permission from the landowner and the relevant authority to carry out the proposed works

If permission is refused

If we refuse to issue a land drainage consent, we will write to you to provide reasons for our decision and explain how you can appeal against the decision.


If permission is refused and you think it has been withheld unreasonably, or that a Land Drainage Consent has been granted with conditions you feel are inappropriate, you have the right to appeal. Please contact us if you would like more information about the appeals process.

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