Consenting Works on Watercourses

The Flood and Water Management Act amended the Land Drainage Act. So, Lead Local Flood Authorities have taken over the role of providing consent for works on ordinary watercourses from the Environment Agency. Cornwall Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority for Cornwall.

If you are planning to conduct works that may interfere with a stream or river then you will need consent. If the watercourse is designated as a main river you will need to apply to the Environment Agency.

If not a main river then it is an ordinary watercourse. You you will need to apply to Cornwall Council as the Lead Local Flood Authority. 

If your works are to an ordinary watercourse but within 7 metres of a main river you need consent from both the Environment Agency and Cornwall Council

Find out whether a stream or river is a main river on our Flood Risk Map. If you are still unsure then please contact us at

For guidance on when and how to apply for consent and to download application and payment forms please use the links below:

Land drainage rights and responsibilities

Cornwall Council is designated as the Land Drainage Authority for Cornwall under the Land Drainage Act (1991).  However, if you own land that contains or is adjacent to a watercourse then you are a riparian land owner and have certain responsibilities. Find out more by reading our document Land drainage rights and responsibilities.

Further information may be obtained from the Government's Owning a Watercourse web page.  This explains your rights and responsibilities of riverside ownership.

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