Land Drainage Consent Guidance Notes

Please read through these guidance notes and the application form carefully before you fill the form in.

If you are not sure about anything in these guidance notes, contact us using the details at the bottom of this form.

These guidance notes give you information to help you fill in your application for Ordinary Watercourse Land Drainage Consent. Before completing this form you are recommended to contact us for advice on your proposal. Under the Land Drainage Act 1991, you need consent if you want to build or alter a culvert or structure (such as a weir) to control the flow of water on any ordinary watercourse or where proposals will cause an obstruction to flow. It is essential that you obtain our consent before starting the work.

Works constructed prior to the formal written consent of Devon County Council are and will remain unconsented because we are unable to issue retrospective consent. Devon County Council has the power to remove unauthorised work and recover the costs of doing so (Section 24(4) Land Drainage Act 1991).

When making an application it is essential to fill in the application form accurately and for any accompanying information, including drawings, maps and calculations submitted to be clear. Further details of the information required by Devon County Council are given in these notes. In order to ensure that appropriate details are submitted you may wish to discuss the information required with our officers before you make your formal application.

How to obtain consent

When you have fully completed your application form please send it with the correct fee and supporting documents to the Flood Risk Management team at Devon County Council, contact details are at the end of this guidance note and the application form.


Upon receipt of an application we have two months in which to determine (grant or refuse) a consent. An incomplete application can be determined by refusal.

You should be aware that in accordance with Devon County Council’s environmental duties, consent may be refused if the proposed works are considered detrimental to the environment.

Land Drainage consent is given solely on flood risk, sustainability and environmental consideration. The granting of consent should not be regarded by the applicant as in any way approving the engineering design the proposed works.

Right of appeal

If you believe that consent has been unreasonably withheld or conditions unreasonably imposed then you have a right to appeal.

Other consents

You may also require further consents from other agencies, such as the Environment Agency, under the Water Resources Act 1991 (e.g. for impounding, water abstraction etc.), under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 (in respect of fish passes) or under the Environmental Protection/Waste Regulation legislation. Consent from other organisation such as Natural England or the Local Authority may also be required.

Further information

If you are in any doubt about whether you need to apply for consent, how to complete the application form or any other aspect of your application please contact the Flood Risk Management Team.

How to make an application for consent

The following notes are intended to assist in the completion of the application form and the submission of supporting documentation:-

1. About you, the applicant

Your address

 All applicants must fill in this section. You must give us your full UK address. The address you give here will be the address your Land Drainage Consent will be registered to and will be shown on any Land Drainage Consent we grant.

Contact details

All applicants must fill in this section. You need to tell us who we should contact about your application for Land Drainage consent. You can nominate someone other than the person named on any Land Drainage consent (for example, a consultant or agent with detail entered within section 2). You need to give us your or the relevant person’s full name, address and contact details.

2. About your agent (if applicable)

Agent acting on behalf of an applicant should enter details.

3. Your Interest in the Land

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.

 4. Location of the Proposed Works

 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;
  • The name of the watercourse; and
  • The National Grid Reference (12 figures)

5. Description and purpose of the proposed works.

It is important that you accurately describe the proposals for the application being made. Please tell us the purpose of the works and the number of structures you need consent for.

6. Plans and Sections

To consider your proposals we need to receive plans and drawings. The drawings must be no larger than A0 size, and they need to include the following:

Location Plan

This must be at an appropriate scale and be based on an Ordnance Survey map. It must clearly show the general location of the site where the proposed work will be carried out and include general features and street names. It must also identify the watercourse or other bodies of water in the surrounding area.

Site Plan (general arrangement)

The plan should be drawn to an appropriate scale, which must be clearly stated. 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, outfalls and so on; and
  • Existing fish passes or structures intended to allow fish to pass upstream and downstream;

Legible sketches

Clearly illustrating the proposed works which are dimensioned will be acceptable.

Cross Sections (if applicable)

Where works encroach into any watercourse, then you should provide cross sections both upstream and downstream of the proposed works. Cross sections should be drawn as if looking downstream on the watercourse and should include details of existing and proposed features and water levels.

Longitudinal sections (if applicable)

Longitudinal sections taken along the centre line of the watercourse are needed. These must show the existing and proposed features including water levels, bed levels and structures. They should extend both upstream and downstream of the proposed work.

Detailed drawings (if applicable)

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 must also show any land drains to be affected.)
  • Bridges and Culverts – Additional cross sections upstream and downstream of the proposed works or a longitudinal section along the centre line of the watercourse are required sufficient for the average channel bed gradient to be determined.

Where relevant, details of consultation/permissions with other professional bodies should be included with the application. For example, this may include detail of consultation with Natural England or detail of a planning approval from the Local Authority.

Advice on these requirements can be discussed during pre-application discussions.

7. Construction details

You may need separate consents for the permanent works and any temporary works that do not form part of the permanent works. Temporary works could include, for example, cofferdams (watertight enclosures) across a watercourse, or temporary diversions of water while work is carried out. Permanent and Temporary works may be combined into a single application.

For any temporary work, we need to know how you are proposing to carry out the work. So you need to send us a “method statement” that includes details of the specific measures you plan to take to keep disruption to a minimum and reduce any unwanted effects while the work is being carried out.

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.

 8. 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.

 9. Planning Approvals

It is normal practice to obtain planning approval, if required, prior to placing an application for Land Drainage Consent. You should contact your Local Planning Authority to establish if planning permission is required.

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

10. Maintaining the Structure

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

11. 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 send us your application so that we can give you advice on this. If you don’t, your application could be delayed.

The environmental appraisal should identify 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.

Include any specific measures you plan to keep disruption to a minimum and reduce any unwanted effects while the work is being carried out.

Set out 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, the planning authority has asked for an environmental appraisal, you must send it to us with all the other supporting documents we need.

If your site falls within, is next to or is linked to a nature conservation site, contact us as soon as possible to discuss your proposals before you send us your application.

Under the European Habitats Regulations, we must make sure that Land Drainage Consent does not have a direct or indirect negative effect on any site specified in the regulations, including:

  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
  • Designated Special Areas of Conservation (SACs);
  • Special Protection Areas (SPAs);
  • Listed RAMSAR sites; and
  • Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs)

Under the Habitats Regulations, we must consult Natural England. You may want to contact these organisations yourself to get their views on your proposal.

12. Effects on Fisheries

Spawning habitat, spawning fish, and the spawn of fish are protected under the Salmon and Fresh Water Fish Act 1975. The standard in channel works period for salmonid watercourses is 1st June – 30th September. Therefore, any in channel works must be avoided between 1st October – 31st May.

If works are to be carried out during the restricted fisheries period (1st October – 31st May), an in-channel habitat assessment is required for the area, including upstream and downstream of the works.

It is an offence to damage fish or fish habitat through the release of a pollutant (including silt).

It is an offence to reduce fish passage for migratory salmonids at a permanent structure (new or existing) without providing a fish passage (approved by the Environment Agency).

Temporary works within an ordinary watercourse must be designed to limit the effects on fish and eels. Fish passage should be maintained where possible.

When isolating the works area via cofferdam or fluming, fish rescue and screening for pumping operations is required. A 2mm screen is required for all sites within 30km of the tidal limit and pumping more than 20m3/day

Any silt beds below water level are likely to contain eels. Therefore, any desilting works should be carried out gradually in an upstream direction to allow for fish escapement. Removed silt should be placed near the river in a thin layer to allow hand searching for fish.

For further details on fisheries requirements for culverting works, please see our culvert guidance page.

13. Fees

There is a charge of £50 per structure or operation in a watercourse.

This can include:

  • Individual structures (where headwalls and culverts will be counted as separate structures)
  • Temporary works/activity within a watercourse
  • Outfall structures and bank protection works, whilst not in the watercourse channel may require consent due to the nature of the temporary working within the watercourse.

Once you have submitted your application we will contact you to advise of the fee required. Once payment has been received, the application will be determined within two months from the date of payment.

 14. Checklist

Tick the relevant documents in this section so that we know what you are sending

 15. Declaration

The Data Protection Act 1998

This section sets out our rights and responsibilities under the Data Protection Act 1998.


By signing this section you are declaring that, as far as you know, the information you have provided, including the map and any supporting documents, is true. We will not accept any application that is not signed.

16. Next steps

Please return this form together with any supporting documents to us at:


Flood Risk Management Team,
Room 120
County Hall
Topsham Road

General enquiries: 01392 383000 (ask for Flood Risk)