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Consent for work on ordinary watercourses

Norfolk County Council is responsible for consenting on works that affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse under the terms of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, Land Drainage Act 1991 and Water Resources Act 1991. An ordinary watercourse refers to all channels conveying water which are not designated 'main rivers'.

In line with good practice, the Council seeks to avoid culverting, and its consent for such works will not normally be granted except as a means of access.

Who do I need to apply to for consent to alter my watercourse?

If your watercourse is part of a main river then you will need to apply for consent to the Environment Agency and not Norfolk County Council.

If your watercourse falls within an Internal Drainage District then you will need to apply to the Internal Drainage Board (IDB) responsible for that area and not Norfolk County Council.  Find your local IDB.

To check who is the responsible organisation for consenting works on ordinary watercourses follow these links:

If your watercourse is not part of a main river, or within an IDB area then you will need to apply to us for consent. Download our  consent application form (Word doc) [114KB] and guidance (PDF) [136KB]. Our  Ordinary Watercourse Consent Protocol (PDF) [457KB] provides more information.

How much does it costs to get consent?

Once an application has been submitted the application fee cannot be refunded, so contact us before you send in your application and we will help you check that you are sending the right amount for the consent.

There is a charge of £50 for each structure associated with the application.

How long does it take to get consent?

You will receive a written decision within eight weeks from the date of receipt of the application.  Failure to provide all relevant information will result in an automatic refusal by the seventh week.  You will then have to submit a new application.

Can consent be refused?

There are many reasons why an application could be refused.  Two of the most common reasons for refusal are insufficient information within the application form to determine whether the consent can be issued and where it is deemed that a watercourse’s flow could be obstructed.

Read the guidance (PDF) [136KB] notes and make sure you provide enough detail.  If you are not sure, contact us before you send in the application.

Who can I contact to get advice from before making an application for consent?

Email or contact the Customer Service Centre.

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