Land drainage consent


Please note the following timescales associated with the land drainage consent process:

  • The turnaround time for consents is 2 months from the date of payment received, as per the Land Drainage Act 1991. Please ensure you allow sufficient time for your consent to be assessed by the relevant officers.
  • In order to avoid fish spawning times, any temporary works being undertaken within ordinary watercourses must avoid the period 1st October – 31st May (inclusive).
  • Please allow time for us to consult with our Environment Agency colleagues where necessary regarding fisheries and biodiversity matters.

If you wish to undertake certain types of work on a watercourse then you need permission from the appropriate authority. This depends on whether the watercourse is classed as a Main River or an Ordinary Watercourse. If the watercourse is classed as
Main River you need to apply for consent from the Environment Agency. A map showing Main Rivers is available on Devon County Council’s Environment Viewer.

An Ordinary Watercourse is defined as a watercourse that is not a Main River, and includes streams, drains and ditches, and passages through which water flows. Works affecting an Ordinary Watercourse may require consent from Devon County Council or Braunton Marsh Internal Drainage Board.

Photo of an outwall headwall

Regulation is required in order to minimise the risk of flooding and to ensure that there is no increased flood risk on a particular site, avoiding any adverse effects

on people and the environment. The process consists of issuing consents for acceptable work and undertaking enforcement action when appropriate to deal with unacceptable activities.

An explanation of our Culvert Policy is available regarding the consent process and design guidance. We will promote this policy to planners and developers, and use it to inform our response to applications to culvert watercourses.

Before you start

We encourage you to contact us in advance of applying for consent so that we can discuss your requirements, provide advice and ensure that your application is valid and completed correctly.

Only certain types of works, under the Land Drainage Act, require consent such as constructing or altering a mill, dam, weir, and any culvert which is likely to affect the water flow. Both permanent and temporary works affecting the flow of a watercourse may require consent.

Please read the guidance notes. Sufficient additional information must be included in order for us to determine the suitability of your proposals. You must demonstrate that your proposals will not have an adverse effect on local flood risk or the environment. You must also submit an application fee (if applicable, please contact us to confirm). This is currently £50 per structure or operation.

Download the application form or apply online

DCC Good Practice Guidance:

Your application will be determined within two months of receiving a valid application. A valid application includes a completed application form, appropriate details of your proposals and the application fee (if appropriate). Please read the guidance notes available to ensure you have included all of the relevant information required for validation.

For queries contact the Flood Risk Team:

How to contact us

For all other flooding enquiries contact the Devon County Council Flood Risk Management Team on 0345 155 1015 or email

Flood Risk Management
Room 120
County Hall
Topsham Road

Last Updated: November 2022