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The aim of using enforcement action is to:

  • Ensure the proper flow of water in a watercourse and over the floodplain
  • To control water levels and the security of existing assets.

Enforcement action may be used by a regulating body to rectify any unlawful, damaging or potentially damaging work, this is decided using a risk-based approach.

Council enforcement powers

Bedford Borough Council has powers under Sections 23, 24 and 25 of the Land Drainage Act 1991 with regard to the issuing of consents, enforcement against un-consented works and general enforcement of riparian owner duties. 

These powers are permissive, meaning that it remains the decision of the authority as to whether it enforces or not.

When does the Council use these powers?

If a watercourse or feature is in need of maintenance, the council encourages the person that owns it to take remedial action. 

If a riparian owner fails to carry out maintenance on a watercourse or feature, the Council can use its powers under the Land Drainage Act 1991 to serve notice requiring them to undertake the necessary works. Failure to comply with such a notice may result in the Council undertaking the work and recharging the owner with the costs.

Permissive powers

This means that we may choose to intervene in the public interest where we believe works would be beneficial and/or economically viable, but we are under no legal obligation to do so.

Who else has powers of enforcement?

a) The Environment Agency and IDB also have permissive powers under the Land Drainage Act 1991 to undertake works in watercourses and regulate the activities of riparian owners.

b) As the Highways Authority, Bedford Borough Council also has powers under the Highways Act 1980 to ensure the public highway is effectively drained.

c) Anglian Water has some powers under the Water Industry Act 1991 to ensure its assets are performing and do not pose a threat to flooding.

View the different authorities responsibilities and powers to manage flood risk in the Borough.

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