Working on a watercourse

Information on how to apply for a Land Drainage Consent when you need to work on rivers, ditches, or streams.

If you want to do works to a watercourse in Suffolk, it is likely that you will need to be granted consent by either us, an Internal Drainage Board, or the Environment Agency. 

Main rivers are the responsibility of the Environment Agency, and  applications to work on main rivers must be submitted to them. You can use this map created by the Environment Agency to find out whether or not the application in question is on a main watercourse. 

The responsibility to manage flood risk from ordinary watercourses (streams and ditches, etc) in Suffolk rests with us, as the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA). Therefore, anyone who intends to carry out works in, over, under or near an ordinary watercourse in Suffolk must contact us to obtain Land Drainage Consent before starting the work. The reason for this is to ensure that any works do not endanger life or property by increasing the risk of flooding, or cause harm to the water environment.

As a guide for applicants, we have created a simple diagram with some common examples which aims to make clear which kinds of work do or don't need consent. Doing works without consent is illegal, and you may be required to return the watercourse to its original state at your own cost. 

Apply for land drainage consent for works affecting ordinary watercourses

Our developer guidance page contains information on our role as a statutory consultee on major planning applications.

You may request a flood map from us to find out whether the area your application sits in is predicted to be at risk from flooding. 

Live chat

You can contact Customer Service quickly and easily using live chat.

Live chat is available from 9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday.

If you navigate away from this page any live chat you've started will close.