Apply for consent for works affecting ordinary watercourses

Application form and supporting information for land drainage consent for works affecting ordinary watercourses

Land Drainage applications take up to 8 weeks to process. We cannot guarantee that applications will be decided earlier than this. Please factor this into your programme of works.

Coronavirus update: For the foreseeable future we will only be able to process applications which are submitted digitally to

You're required to submit a land drainage application to us if you wish to do any works which may affect the flow in a watercourse. This can include culverts, dams, weirs or installation of headwalls into a watercourse (including the bank).

When making an application it is essential to fill in the application form fully and accurately, and for any accompanying information, including drawings, maps, assessments and calculations submitted to be clear.

Before submitting and application you may find it useful to familiarise yourself with our consenting policy (PDF, 782KB), which outlines the features we would expect to see in an application and why.  

You may wish to discuss the information required with our officers before you make your formal application. Contact details can be found below.

Please note: Incomplete or illegible applications will be returned to the applicant and your fee will not be processed. 

Download the application form

How to complete your application for consent

The following notes should assist you in the completion of the application form and the submission of supporting documentation. Each section relates to the same numbered section found on the application form:

Before starting

Certain structures and features may need consent and others may not. On top of this, some might instead need temporary consent. This helpful diagram (PDF, 39KB) shows examples from common works to watercourses to help make consenting a bit clearer. If you are unsure, please contact

1.0 Applicant

The name of the individual, organisation or company applying for consent should be given along with the name, address and telephone number of a person who can be contacted to discuss the proposals.

1.1 Applicants Interest in the Land

This should explain why the applicant wants to undertake the works.

2.0 Agent Details

Agents acting on behalf of an applicant should enter details. If this section is completed, all correspondence will be sent to the agent. Leave blank if not applicable.

3.0 Location of Proposed Works

The name of the watercourse as shown on the Ordnance Survey map should be given if known, (many minor watercourses are unnamed).

The location of the proposed works should indicate the nearest town/village, the address of the site or sufficient description to enable the site to be identified easily.

The Grid Reference must be provided as 6 figure Eastings and Northings: e.g 612345 212345

4.0 Description and Purpose of Proposed Works, Including Method Statement

In this section you should clearly describe the works you plan to undertake. This should include details on the materials you plan to use, the dimensions of the proposed structures or changes to the channel, and any other information which is relevant to the application.

The method statement should clearly define the way in which you plan to undertake the proposed works. This is best done by breaking down the proposal into stages and describing what will be done at each stage. We require some information on what health and safety measures you will have in place during construction, and what you will do to mitigate flood risk during construction where appropriate.

5.0 Plans, Sections and Pictures

All pictures, plans and drawings must include a title and reference number.

As a minimum, every application will require:

  • Location Plan
    • This should be based on an Ordnance Survey map and should show clearly the general geographic location of the site where the works are to be constructed.
  • Site Plan
    • This should be drawn to a recognised scale which must be clearly stated. Ordnance Survey maps or engineering drawings to a scale of 1:1250 or larger are recommended.
  • Detailed drawings
    • Plan(s), longitudinal, and cross section(s) showing details of existing and proposed features. Cross sections should be drawn looking downstream on the watercourse where appropriate. Measurements should be taken from hard bed level – this means that measuring from any silt which is already in the channel is inappropriate.
    • Land surface contours, where appropriate.
    • 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 which may be affected by the proposed work.
    • Details of any planting or seeding within the river channel to the watercourse within the floodplain.
    • Bridges and culverts – Additional cross sections upstream and downstream of the proposed works are required sufficient for the average channel bed gradient to be determined.
    • Dams and weirs – A plan showing the extent of the impoundment under normal and flood conditions is required in order to assess the possible impact on riparian owners.
    • Mineral extraction/land filling – Contour surveys of the existing site are required in addition to details of the proposed filled site. Details of interim levels including temporary stock pile works are required where such works are in flood plain areas.
  • Site Photos
    • These pictures should clearly show the site in prior to any works taking place. They should show the area which you propose to work on from a number of different angles.

6.0 Construction details

Work which affect watercourses but are not permanent features will require temporary consent. These temporary features can be applied for in the same way as permanent features, and therefore you will need to indicate whether your proposals are temporary or permanent. 

7.0 Impacts on the Natural Environment

This section aims to give us further information regarding the proposals’ effects on the surrounding natural environment. Please read this section carefully and answer the questions which are found on the form.

7.1 Evidence to Demonstrate no Harmful Effects on the Natural Environment 

You only need to complete this section where all answers in section 7.0 are “No”. If you have answered “No” to everything in question 7.0, you will need to provide evidence that your proposals are not harmful to the natural environment.  The best way to do this is by providing pictures and maps as well as a description for evidence that the proposal cannot damage the natural environment. 

8.0 Permissions or Approvals

This may include other permissions or approvals from the Local Planning Authority (LPA), Suffolk Highways, or other statutory bodies. Please include details of whether you have already gained approval from other organisations for these works, or proposals to do so. 

9.0 Are There Any Outstanding Conditions from the LPA Relating to Surface Water Drainage?

If there are outstanding conditions, please list them in this section.

10.0 Are the Works Associated with a Drainage Approval(s)?

If the proposals are associated with a drainage approval, please provide details

11.0 Emergency Contact Details for Contractors/Individuals Carrying Out Works

These are contact details we would use to alert the relevant contractors or individuals if there were an emergency during construction. We will not alert you that a flood is expected to happen.

12.0 Details of person or organisation responsible for maintaining the structure(s) on completion

Please provide the contact details for the person or organisation who will be responsible for the ongoing ownership and maintenance of the structure.

13.0 Checklist

Please ensure that all items in bold are submitted. If the required documents are not submitted, we will not process your application until the additional information is received. This will prolong the application process, and if the required documents are not submitted at all we will return your application to you without consent.

14.0 Fee

Each structure you propose will cost £50. For example, an application which proposes a single culvert and channel realignment would cost £100 since there are two permanent changes. Grouping several structures into one application will not reduce the total cost of the application.

Please note that a single culvert and associated headwall(s) is considered to be one structure since each element of the proposal is reliant on the other.

15.0 Declaration

Enter the value of the cheque submitted or the payment type requested. Arrange for the photographic evidence to be collected after completion. Sign and date the form.

Application charge

Suffolk County Council as the Local Lead Flood Authority are authorised by section 23(2) of the Land Drainage Act 1991 (as amended by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010) to charge an application fee in relation to the consents required.

These fees are payable to cover our costs for examining the proposals.

The amount of the fee is £50 per structure.

Value Added Tax is not applicable.

Cheques should be made payable to “Suffolk County Council”.

You should note that this charge is payable in respect of each structure and the box on the application form should be completed as appropriate.

Please contact your local Suffolk County Council, Flood & Water Management office if you are in doubt about the fee applicable.

Submitting your application

If possible please submit your completed application, with the necessary fee and supporting documents, via email to

If you are unable to send the application digitally, please post all of the relevant documentation and fee to:

Suffolk County Council
Flood & Water Management
Endeavour House
8 Russell Road

Telephone: 0345 606 6067

Legal provisions and data protection

Legal provisions

For your information the legal provisions are as follows:

Land Drainage Act 1991 as amended by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 (FWMA10)
Section 23(1) of the Land Drainage Act 1991 (LDA91) provides:

“No person shall:

(a) erect any mill dam, weir or other like obstruction to the flow of any ordinary watercourse or raise or otherwise alter any such obstruction; or

(b) erect a culvert in an ordinary watercourse, or

(c) alter a culvert in a manner that would be likely to affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse,

without the consent in writing of the drainage board concerned."

Failure to apply for a consent

Under the Land Drainage Act 1991 if works are executed without first obtaining a formal written consent from us we have the power to serve a notice under Section 24(1) requiring you to abate the nuisance within a specified time.

Failure to comply with the notice is a criminal offence. Steps may be also be taken to abate the nuisance and recover from you the expenses so incurred.

Data Protection Act 1988

The Data Protection Act, which came into force in March 2000, requires that Suffolk County Council, as a Lead Local Flood Authority, advises its customers how data relating to individuals will be processed and disclosed.

The information provided will be processed by Suffolk County Council as the Lead Local Flood Authority to deal with your application, to monitor compliance with the Licence/permit/registration conditions, to process renewals, and for maintaining the relevant public register(s).

We may also process and/or disclose it in connection with the following:

consulting with the public, public bodies and other organisations (e.g. Health and Safety Executive, Local Authorities, Emergency Services, DEFRA, Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Boards) on environmental issues;

  • carrying out statistical analysis, research and development on environmental issues;
  • providing public register information to enquirers;
  • investigating possible breaches of environmental law and taking any resulting action;
  • preventing breaches of environmental law; and
  • assessing customer service satisfaction and improving our service.

We may pass the information on to our agents/representatives to do these things on our behalf.

Contact information

If you are in any doubt about whether you need to apply for a consent, how to complete the application forms or any other aspect of your application please contact:

Suffolk County Council
Flood & Water Management
Endeavour House
8 Russell Road

Telephone: 0345 606 6067

If possible, please submit your completed application via email to