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Ordinary watercourse regulation

Under the provisions of the Land Drainage Act 1991, as amended by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, Bedford Borough Council as the Lead Local Flood Authority now has a duty to regulate certain activities that might have an adverse impact on flood risk and the environment and to ensure that riparian owners carry out their responsibilities.

What is meant by regulation?

Regulation consists of two processes:

Issuing of consents for any changes to a watercourse that might obstruct/alter the flow

The consenting process is in place to ensure that any works carried out in or near a watercourse do not have a negative effect on nearby properties or the environment. It also ensures that any works which may affect flood risk are properly designed.

See more on the consenting process, when you will need consent and how you can apply for this on our Consenting of works page.

Taking enforcement action to rectify any unlawful and potentially damaging work to a watercourse

In exceptional circumstances, enforcement action may be required where activities on an ordinary watercourse have caused adverse effects on flooding and the local environment. This will depend on the severity of the obstruction and/or the level of risk associated to the stretch of watercourse.

See more on how and what the council enforces on using our Enforcement powers page.

What watercourses does the council regulate?

This duty applies to watercourses which have not been designated as main rivers on the Environment Agency's flood maps, and which are not within the Internal Drainage Board's area. These are known as ordinary watercourses.

See more on the different types of watercourses in the Borough on our What is a watercourse page.