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Under the terms of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, Bury Council became the Lead Local Flood Authority and gained responsibility for consenting works that may affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse.

An 'ordinary watercourse' is a watercourse that is not part of the Environment Agency's main river network. These include smaller 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 consent from the Environment Agency and not Bury Council. To identify whether your watercourse is a main river, visit the Environment Agency's website using the External Links section of this page.

As a Lead Local Flood Authority, we are responsible for managing local flood risk which includes flooding caused by unconsented alterations to ordinary watercourses. If you intend to carry out work which may affect the flow or storage of water, you need to apply to us for consent.

Apply for consent

To apply for consent for works affecting an ordinary watercourse you must complete the application form for an Ordinary Watercourse Land Drainage Consent.

Please contact us before you start your application, as 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 call us 0161 253 5847 for an informal discussion.

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.

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.


Ordinary watercourse consent guidance notes

To apply for consent works affecting an ordinary watercourse, you must complete the application for an Ordinary Watercourse Land Drainage Consent. Approval is required for any temporary works affecting the watercourse and a method of undertaking will need to be submitted prior to these works commencing. One application form can be made for multiple structures, if located in the same areas or on the same watercourse.

These guidance notes give you information to help you fill in your application for Ordinary Watercourse Consent. Please read through these guidance notes carefully before you complete an application. 

There is a charge for each structure or operation for applications made under the Land Drainage Act 1991.

Before completing the online application, we recommend contacting us for advice on your proposal. 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 call us on 0161 253 5847 for an informal discussion or email

Applicant details

This is the name of the individual, organisation or company applying for consent. This should be given along with the name, addresses and telephone number of a person who can be contacted to discuss the proposal(s). You must give us your full UK address. The address you give here will be the address we register your flood defence consent to and will be shown on any Ordinary Watercourse Consent we grant.

Agent details

You can nominate someone other than the person named on any ordinary watercourse consent (for example, a consultant or agent to act on your behalf). You need to give us your or the relevant person's full name, address and contact details. If you complete this section, we will send all correspondence will be sent to the Agent. Leave blank if not applicable.

Description and purpose of the proposed works

It is important that you accurately describe the proposals in your application. Please tell us the purpose of the works, the number of structures you need consent for and whether the works are permanent or temporary.

You may need separate consents for the permanent works and any temporary works that do not form part of the permanent works. In some cases it may be possible to apply for both the Permanent Works and Temporary within one application. Temporary works could include, for example, scaffolding, cofferdams (watertight enclosures) across a watercourse or temporary diversions of water while work is carried out.

Site address details

We need to be able to easily identify where the proposed works will be carried out. Please give details of the:

  • location of the site
  • name of the watercourse
  • National Grid Reference.

Land ownership

We need to know what interest you have in the land where the works will be carried out (for example, whether you are the landowner or tenant). If any work will be carried out on land that you do not own, you will need permission from whoever owns the land.

Planning permission

Please provide details of any planning permissions you may have or are applying for that relates to this proposal.

Environment Agency interests

Please tick the appropriate boxes. If you answer, yes, to any of the questions, you will probably need extra licenses or consents from the Environment Agency before you start work. You should make sure that you have enough time to get all approvals you need before you start work. If you don't, this could delay the work.

Effects on the environment

We have a legal duty to protect and improve the environment, so we must consider the environmental effects of your proposal. You may need to carry out an environmental appraisal to assess the effects of your work. You should contact us before you submit your application so that we can advise you on this.

Your environmental appraisal should identify and consider all likely effects on the environment. You should consider:

  • the direct and indirect effects the work has on sites and features of interest and species of particular value
  • any specific measures you plan to minimise any disruption and reduce any unwanted effects while the work is ongoing
  • any opportunities for you to improve the environmental value of the site. This may include creating water features, planting trees and shrubs that would normally grow at the site, providing bird nesting boxes or creating sustainable places for wildlife to live.

If as part of a planning permission we have asked for an environmental appraisal, you must send it to us with all the other supporting documents we require. If your site falls within, next to or is linked to a nature conservation site, contact us as soon as possible. Under the European Habitats Regulations, we must make sure that Flood Defence Consent does not have a direct or indirect negative effect on any site specified in the regulations, including:

  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI's)
  • Designated Special Areas of Conservation (SAC's)
  • Special Protection Areas (SPA's)
  • Listed RAMSAR sites
  • Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAM's).

Maintaining the structure

We need to know who will be responsible for maintenance both during construction work and after the work has finished.

Construction details

We need to know when you are proposing to carry out the work and how long you think it will take. When you are planning the work you need to make sure that you have allowed enough time for us to consider your application.

Description and numbers of all drawings submitted

To consider your proposals we need to receive plans and drawings, that should ideally be undertaken by a competent engineer or surveyor and showing Ordnance Datum Newlyn (the height above sea level). You need to provide us with a copy of all relevant drawings. The drawings need to include the following:

  • Location Plan: this should be at an appropriate scale and be based on an Ordnance Survey map. It must clearly show the general location of the site and include general features. It must also identify the watercourse or other bodies of water in the surrounding area
  • Site Plan (general arrangement): you must provide a plan of the site showing:
    • the existing site, including any watercourse
    • your proposals
    • the position of any structures which may influence local river hydraulics, including bridges, pipes and ducts, ways of crossing the watercourse, culverts and screens, embankments, walls and outfalls
    • existing fish passes or structures intended to allow fish to pass upstream and downstream
  • Cross Sections: where works encroach into any watercourse, you should provide cross sections both upstream and downstream of the proposed works
  • Longitudinal Sections: we need longitudinal sections taken along the centre line of the watercourse. These must show the existing and proposed features including water levels, bed levels and structures
  • Detailed Drawings: these are to show details of the existing and proposed features such as the following:
    • the materials to be used for any structures
    • the location of any proposed service pipes or cables which may affect the future maintenance of the watercourse
    • details of any tree, shrub, hedgerow, pond or wetland area that may be affected by the proposed works
    • details of any planting or seeding
    • dams and weirs: (we need a plan showing the extent of the water impounded (held back) under normal and flood conditions so that we can assess the possible effect on land next to the river. The plan should also show any land drains to be affected.)


The fee for Ordinary Watercourse Consent, is £50 per structure. Please contact us before you submit an application for confirmation on the appropriate fee.


By submitting the form, you are declaring that, as far as you know, the information you have provided, including the map and any supporting documents, is true. If you are applying as a company which has trustees, all trustees agree to the declaration. If you are applying as a limited company, a company secretary or a director agree to the declaration.