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Land Drainage Consent

1. Who to apply for consent to

If you want to carry out works on a watercourse, you may require consent. This section of the website helps you understand what may need consent and how you should apply for it.


Which agency grants consent for works on watercourses depends on the nature of the watercourse itself.

Different consenting bodies

Depending on their location, size and importance, watercourses are classified differently.

  • Main river: if the watercourse is a main river then you will need to apply to the Environment Agency. Main rivers are typically larger rivers and/or watercourses of strategic importance. However this is not always the case, so to make sure you should check the map below.
  • Ordinary watercourse: if the watercourse is defined as an ordinary watercourse (not main river) then you will need to apply to either Buckinghamshire County Council or the Buckingham and River Ouzel Internal Drainage Board (IDB).
    • The IDB operates in the most northern part of Buckinghamshire. To check if the watercourse you want to do work on falls under their remit, check the ‘Internal Drainage Board Area’ box on the map below. Find out more about the IDB's consenting process.
    • For ordinary watercourses that are not in the IDB area, please follow the application process

Officially, an ordinary watercourse is any watercourse that is not designated as a main river on the map below.

In practice, we consider ordinary watercourses to include every river, stream, ditch, drain, cut, dike/dyke, sluice, sewer (other than a public sewer) and passage through which water flows and which does not form part of a main river.

Many of these ordinary watercourses will not be marked on the map below; please assume that if the water body you’re looking at is not marked as main river, then it counts as an ordinary watercourse. If you’re still not sure whether what you’re suggesting to do work on is an ordinary watercourse or not, contact us making sure to include as much information as possible (precise location, photos etc).

Main river and ordinary watercourse map

Please look at the map below to find out who you need to apply to for consent. 

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Last updated: 9 November 2017

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