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Land Drainage

If you need to find out who is responsible for Land Drainage, the information and links below should help you.

Who is responsible?

A landowner is responsible for the drainage of their land and, in so doing, to not cause problems for their neighbours

A person owning lower-level land has to accept natural land drainage water (that is, spring water, ground water or surface water run-off) from adjacent land at a higher level

However, they also have the right to prevent such water causing damage to their own land.

Remember, 'natural' runoff does not include water from gutter downpipes, nor cases where an entire back garden has been paved over.

What about ditches, streams and rivers?

In the case of ditches, streams and rivers it is the landowners each side of the watercourse (known as "riparian owners")

Information about riparian ownership is available here: Riverside ownership: rights and responsibilities

Who is responsible for Main Rivers?

Certain important streams and watercourses are known as Main Rivers and in these instances the Environment Agency have powers to maintain water flow and to carry out flood defence works

The route and extent of these Main Rivers within the District can be accurately determined from plans held by the Environment Agency but are approximately shown on this plan.

Remember, the landowner is still responsible for the physical maintenance of the 'Main River'.

What is the Council's responsibility?

All watercourses of any description fall to the landowner to maintain, which in some instances may be the Council

The Council budgets to meet its own responsibilities on its own land, but has no budget available to carry out works on privately-owned land

The Council does allocate some officer time to help and advise on flood / land drainage issues and co-ordinate with other authorities / organisations.

The Council can serve notice and carry out works if ditches have become blocked resulting in a flood risk or health hazard

These powers are contained in the Land Drainage Act 1991 and Land Drainage Act 1994, and Sections 259-265 of the Public Health Act 1936.

Remember, the costs involved in carrying out any such works, plus the administration costs associated with serving notice, are reclaimed from the landowners.