Consenting on ordinary watercourses intro

How to apply for land drainage consent and when consent is needed. 

Asset Publisher

Asset Publisher

Asset Publisher

Consenting on ordinary watercourses

As the lead local flood authority, Northumberland County Council is responsible for approving works that affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse under the provisions of the Land Drainage Act 1991, as amended by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

Do I need land drainage consent?

Section 23(1) of the Land Drainage Act 1991 states:   

"No person shall (a) erect any mill dam, weir or other like obstruction to the flow of any ordinary watercourse or raise or otherwise alter any such obstruction; or (b) erect any culvert that would be likely to affect the flow of any ordinary watercourse or alter any culvert in a manner that would be likely to affect any such flow without the consent in writing of the drainage board concerned.”   

This applies to both permanent and temporary works that are to be within the cross-sectional area of the watercourse.   

It is essential that anyone who intends to carry out works in, under or near a watercourse or flood defence contacts the relevant authority to obtain any necessary consents before starting the work. This is to ensure that any works do not endanger life or property by increasing the risks of flooding or cause harm to the environment.    

If you are unsure whether you require land drainage consent, or wish to speak to us prior to submitting a formal application, please email  

Land drainage consent application

The land drainage consent application form and associated guidance notes can be downloaded below: 

In addition to the above form, in order to process your application, some of the below documentation might be required: 

  • Method statement 
  • Location map and photos 
  • Environmental protection statement or ecology report 
  • Detailed drawings 
  • Risk assessment 

We are authorised under section 23(2) of the Land Drainage Act 1991 to charge an application fee in relation to the consents required, to cover our costs for examining the application(s).   

The fee is set at £50 per structure and an additional fee of £50 where temporary works within the watercourse are required. Value added tax is not applicable.   

Please send a digital copy of the form and appropriate documentation to:   

Payment can be made by card or by sending a cheque to the address below. Please see guidance notes or email for further details.    

Cheques made payable to Northumberland County Council can be sent to:

Northumberland County Council 
County hall 
NE61 2EF 

Determining land drainage applications

We have a statutory period of two months from the date we receive an application in which to grant or refuse consent. Consent will not be unreasonably withheld.   

The granting of our consent should not be regarded as in any way approving the design and soundness of the proposed works, other than in relation to the impact on flows and the effects on the watercourse and its floodplain. 

Related land drainage links

Asset Publisher

Asset Publisher

Asset Publisher