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Other flood authorities

Find out who shares in the duties and responsibilities of how flood risk is managed.


The Department of Environmental, Rood and Rural Affairs (Defra) has overall national responsibility for policy on flood and coastal erosion risk management, and provides funding for flood risk management authorities through flood defence grants.

It does not build or manage flood or coastal erosion defences and does not direct any authorities on which specific projects should be undertaken.

The Environment Agency 

The Environment Agency sets the national strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management and provides support and guidance to local authorities. 

The Agency has a duty and powers to manage flood risk from main rivers, reservoirs and the sea. Main rivers are those shown on the flood map.

The Environment Agency website allows you to find out about the risk of flooding in your area and provides up to date flood warning and advice on how to protect your home or business from flooding by following simple steps.

Check to see if your property is in a flood risk area and/or sign up to receive free flood warnings.

In Bedford Borough this includes the River Great Ouse, as well as sections of the River Til, the River Nene, Pertenhall Brook and Riseley Brook in the northern part of the Borough. Flooding from a main river should be reported to the Environment Agency.

The Regional Flood and Coastal Committee 

Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (RFCCs) were established by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. These are split up into regional areas based on river catchments.

The Anglian (Central) RFCC is responsible for Bedford Borough, which falls into the Upper Great Ouse River catchment (see map (PDF)).

RFCCs approves the annual programme of flood defence work in its region and sets the local levy (PDF). The Committees are made up of a Chairman appointed by Defra, members appointed by the Environment Agency and members appointed by local authorities. All meetings are open to the public.

Visit the Environment Agency's Regional Committee's website to find out more.

Internal drainage boards

Part of the Borough is covered by the Bedford Group of Internal Drainage Boards (IDB) which provides local storm water management through ordinary watercourse maintenance and improvement.

IDB is responsible for the management of ordinary watercourses within its admin area (known as the Internal Drainage District), this includes issuing consents for work. 

View IDB's interactive map to find out if a watercourse is under IDB's jurisdiction. 

Water companies

Anglian Water is responsible for the public sewerage system, which is made up of a network of sewers and drains. 

Flooding from the public sewer can occur from foul or surface water, this happens when sewers become blocked or damaged or when large amounts of rainwater cause the sewers to overflow.

Further information on Anglian Water's responsibilities and practical advice on how best to respond to waste water flooding can be found on its Waste Water Flooding Advice page

Local Highways Authority 

As the Local Highways Authority it is the responsibility of the Borough Council to react to reports of flooding on public highways and footpaths within the Borough (excluding motorways and trunk roads which are the responsibility of Highways England).

It is not necessarily its responsibility to prevent recurrence, however the Local Highway Authority does maintain the roads, drains and gullies to ensure that they are performing effectively. 

You can contact the Council's Highways Helpdesk by email at or on tel: 01234 718003.

If there is a problem with the motorways please call Highways England's 24 hour report line on tel: 0300 123 5000.

Riparian owners

If your property is adjacent to a watercourse of any description, or this passes through or under your property, you are a riparian owner.

As a riparian owner you should be maintaining your waterways regularly and keeping vegetation and obstacles that may restrict the flow of the water clear from the bed and banks.

The best time of year to undertake major clearance works is in late September/October, if repairs are required you are likely to need consent.  

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