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Download Guide to ordinary watercourse consenting 437kb New November 2013
On 6 April 2012 Hampshire County Council became the lead local flood authority and gained responsibility for approving works that affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse under the terms of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, Land Drainage Act 1991 and Water Resources Act 1991.
An ‘ordinary watercourse' is a watercourse that is not part of a main river and includes rivers, streams, ditches, drains, cuts, culverts, dikes, sluices, sewers (other than public sewers within the meaning of the Water Industry Act 1991) and passages, through which water flows.
If your watercourse is part of a main river then you will need to apply for the consent of the Environment Agency for any proposed works, and not that of Hampshire County Council. To identify whether your watercourse is a main river, visit the Environment Agency’s website and view their flood maps
As the Lead Local Flood Authority, the County Council is required to oversee and participate in the management of local flood risk, which includes the risk of flooding from ordinary watercourses. As part of this, the County Council is empowered to enforce any of its decisions on applications to carry out works on ordinary watercourses. Therefore, if you intend to carry out work which may affect the flow or storage of water in ordinary watercourses, you will need to apply to Hampshire County Council for consent.
Please contact us before you start your application - we may be able to advise you that consent is not required for your planned work, or give you advice that will help avoid unnecessary delays. You can ring us on 01962 846746 for an informal discussion, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In line with good practice, the Council seeks to avoid culverting where possible because of the adverse ecological, flood risk, human safety and aesthetic impacts. Watercourses are important linear features of the landscape and should be maintained as continuous corridors to maximise their benefits to society.
We will consider each application to culvert a watercourse on its own merits and in accordance with our risk-based approach to permitting. However we will only approve a culvert if there is no reasonably practicable alternative, or if we think the detrimental effects would be so minor that a more costly alternative would not be justified. We do however recognise that there are situations where culverting may be unavoidable, such as short lengths for access purposes or where highways cross watercourses.
Approval is also required for any temporary works affecting the watercourse and a method of undertaking will need to be submitted prior to these works commencing.
In all cases however, applicants must:
Once a consent application and the correct application fee are received by Hampshire County Council the application, will be checked and if complete, will be made ‘valid’. Assessment will then begin.
An application for consent could be refused where:
It is advised that applicants carefully read the guidance notes and ensure that sufficient detail is provided. If you are unclear, contact us before you send in the application.
The failure to obtain an Ordinary Watercourse Land Drainage Consent prior to carrying out the works may be a criminal offence. Any person acting in contravention of Section 23 of the Land Drainage Act 1991, may be liable, on conviction, to a fine of up to £5,000, and to a further fine of up to £40 for every day on which the contravention is continued after conviction.
Under Section 24 or of the Land Drainage Act 1991 the Council has the power (without prejudice to any other criminal proceedings) to take such action as may be necessary to remedy the effect of the contravention or failure to obtain consent, and to recover the expenses reasonably incurred by it in so doing from the person in default.
To apply for consent for works affecting an ordinary watercourse you must complete the application form for an Ordinary Watercourse Land Drainage Consent and return this to us along with all accompanying items and the appropriate application fee.
It is essential the application is completed accurately and for accompanying information to be clear. If any information is missing, determination of your application could be delayed. One application form can be made for multiple structures, if located in the same area or on the same watercourse.
We would prefer applications to be completed electronically and submitted by email to email@example.com where possible, with the appropriate plans and documents also attached.
However, if you need to send the application by post along with the application fee, then please send to:
Ordinary Watercourse Applications
Department for Economy, Transport & Environment
Hampshire County Council
Winchester SO23 8UD
If work has been carried out on an ordinary watercourse without permission, we can ask you to restore the watercourse to its original condition.
If a watercourse has not been maintained properly and could cause a flood risk, we can arrange for clearance and recover costs from the landowner. Under Riparian Law it is a landowner’s responsibility to maintain and not obstruct any watercourse crossing their land. A guide to a landowner’s rights and responsibilities as a Riparian owner is provided by the Environment Agency.
In the case of works being carried out without consent, and where HCC deems that consent would have been required, works cannot be retrospectively consented. In these cases we will normally take action to see the ordinary watercourse is put back to the condition it was in beforehand.
If you have noticed works to an ordinary watercourse in your local area, please contact us to determine whether the works required consent and whether an application for consent was made or not.
Hampshire County Council will take a risk-based approach to enforcement where unconsented works have been carried out on ordinary watercourses.
For further information on Ordinary Water Courses in Hampshire: