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Alterations to watercourses

Ordinary watercourse at Braunstone

Alterations to watercourses require consent from the Environment Agency for rivers, and from us for smaller watercourses and drainage ditches.

Main rivers

If the work you propose is to a main river, you will need the permission of the Environment Agency. Check the map of rivers in the download below to see if the watercourse is a main river. If so, contact the local Environment Agency office.

If the work is to an ordinary watercourse (any watercourse which is not a main river) you will need to apply to us.

Ordinary watercourses

Which structures need permission?

The erection or alteration of any "culvert, mill dam, weir or other like obstruction to the flow of a watercourse" requires consent. This could relate to any structure, temporary or permanent, within the banks of a watercourse.

We recommend that you contact the relevant authority to discuss your proposals with them if they are near to a watercourse.

If you are altering the banks or a structure in a watercourse in the city which is not a main river, you need to discuss your proposal with us as it may require our consent. We recommend you contact us as soon as you know you need to carry out the work.

How do I apply?

You can download our application form and appendices at the bottom of the page.

Once complete, you can post the application with the fee to our address or email us at and call customer services to arrange payment.

We recommend you contact us to discuss your proposals before applying. If you do not apply for consent and carry out the works, we may take enforcement action against you.

How much does it cost?

Applications for ordinary watercourse consent cost £50 per structure.

The application process.

From submission of a completed application form, we have two months in which to make a decision, otherwise permission is granted automatically. We will write to you to confirm receipt of your application, consult other authorities such as the Environment Agency where necessary and then discuss your proposal with you.

We may also need to contact you to arrange a site visit. If the proposal appears to be unacceptable, we will contact you to discuss amendments to your proposal where we can and we will formally notify you of our decision. The decision may include conditions, and there will also be a reason for the decision.

Any work must be carried out within three years or the permissions will expire.

Appeals against our decision

If we refuse your application or you consider that our conditions are unreasonable you have a right of appeal to an independent arbitrator.