Land drainage

Until April 2012 the District Council was the Local Land Drainage Authority for the Derbyshire Dales.  This role is defined in the Land Drainage Act 1991.  From April 2012 the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 transferred this role to Derbyshire County Council.  The County Council now has powers to require 'riparian owners' to remove blockages to any 'ordinary watercourse'.  If the riparian owner fails to remove the blockage then the County Council has powers to undertake the work itself and recharge the costs of the work to him or her.  In practice the use of these powers is usually not necessary, as problems are generally resolved by the owners following discussions with the County Council.  The District Council still has powers to investigate land drainage issues but cannot require anyone else to undertake works.

Land drainage

The Act also gives the District Council powers to undertake flood alleviation works on ordinary watercourses.  These are permissive powers and the District Council is able to decide whether or not to use them in relation to a particular problem.  Normally the use of these powers would only be considered where the benefits of a scheme outweigh its capital costs.

What is an Ordinary Watercourse?

An ordinary watercourse may be a river, stream, ditch, drain, cut or sewer (other than a public sewer or highway drain) or passage through which water flows that does not form part of a 'main river'.

What is a Riparian Owner?

If you have an ordinary watercourse or a main river running through your land you are likely to be the riparian owner.  If you have an ordinary watercourse or main river running along the boundary of your land you are likely to be the joint riparian owner together with the landowner on the other side.

What are the Responsibilities of a Riparian Owner?

All riparian owners have certain responsibilities in relation to an ordinary watercourse flowing through or adjacent to their land.  These include:

  • Responsibility to pass on the flow without obstruction, pollution or diversion affecting the rights of others;
  • Responsibility to maintain the watercourse and to clear any debris, even if it did not arise from their own land;
  • Responsibility for keeping the watercourse free from any matter that could cause an obstruction, either on their own land or by being washed away and causing an obstruction further downstream;

Works on any watercourse require land drainage consent from the Environment Agency and may require planning permission from the local planning authority.

What is a Main River?

The Environment Agency designates certain watercourses as main rivers and has powers to maintain and improve them.  In the Derbyshire Dales the main rivers are:

  • River Derwent
  • River Wye
  • Henmore Brook
  • Bar Brook
  • Bentley Brook (Tansley)
  • Bentley Brook (Ashbourne)
  • Hilton Brook
  • Foston Brook
  • Dale Brook/Stock Brook from The Dale near the B8521 junction above Stoney Middleton to the River Derwent
  • Bradwell Brook from the disused shaft upstream of Bradwell village to the River Noe at Brough
  • Unnamed tributary of the Bradwell Brook from Brookside to Bradwell Brook
  • Tideswell Brook from Manchester Road to the River Wye
  • Warney Brook from the weir off Lady Grove Road, Two Dales to the River Derwent

Surface Water Run-Off

If flooding is occurring as a result of run-off from one private property to another without a watercourse being involved this will normally be a civil matter between the parties involved.

Further Advice

The information above is intended to act as a guide only.  Further information can be obtained from the contacts below:

Enquires relating to main rivers should be addressed to the Environment Agency
Tel: 08708 506506

Enquires about public sewers should be addressed to Severn Trent Water Limited
Tel: 0800 783 4444

Enquiries about highway drains should be addressed to Derbyshire County Council
Tel: 0845 605 8058