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Operating Bodies (England & Wales only)

The Environment Agency (EA)

  • has general supervision over all matters relating to flood and coastal erosion risk management in England
  • has powers to carry out works to defend against sea or tidal flooding
  • has powers to carry out flood defence works on the main arterial rivers in England. It is up to the EA to decide whether to carry out particular works.

The EA has six regional offices, and each region has a number of area offices responsible for its day-to-day activities. The area office will be your first point of contact for enquiries on flood defence for your neighbourhood. You can find contact details for your area office here.

Natural Resources Wales

  • has powers to carry out flood defence works on the main rivers in Wales. It is up to Natural Resources Wales to decide whether to carry out particular works.
  • maintains more than 4,000 sluices, outfalls, floodgates and barriers.
  • issues flood warnings.

NRW has area offices across Wales responsible for its day-to-day activities. You can find contact details for your local area office here.

Internal Drainage Boards

  • are responsible for ordinary watercourses in internal drainage districts. Ordinary watercourses include rivers that are not part of the main arterial rivers (‘main rivers’), streams and ditches.
  • internal drainage districts are areas with special drainage needs. Most of them are in East Anglia, Yorkshire, Somerset and Lincolnshire. Follow this link to find out if your area is a drainage district.
  • operate under the Land Drainage Act 1991
  • much of what they do is about improving and maintaining rivers, drainage channels and pumping stations.

Local authorities

  • unitary councils authorities have a strategic overview role for local flooding. This covers flood risks from surface runoff, groundwater and ordinary watercourses. The county council has this role in areas without a unitary council.
  • look after ordinary watercourses outside the control of the Internal Drainage Boards. Ordinary watercourses include rivers that are not part of the main arterial rivers, streams, ditches and dykes.
  • Local authorities including Highway Authorities are responsible for surface drainage from roads and public places.
  • may be able to provide aid such as supplies of sandbags in emergency flooding situations.
  • assess new development for flood risk from all sources, including sewage and groundwater. They do this as the local planning authority, applying the approach in the National Planning Policy Framework (section 10).
  • fund flood defence works from council tax and the Central Government Standard Spending Assessment mechanism.
  • District or county councils in coastal areas are responsible for coastal protection. They have powers to carry out sea defence works and measures that prevent coastal erosion. They are free to decide whether to carry out works or not and cannot be compelled to use their powers.

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