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Ordinary Watercourse Consenting

The purpose of Ordinary Watercourse Consent is to control certain activities that may have an adverse impact on flood risk and the environment. Cardiff Council is required to take into account other acts and regulations, notably those relating to the environment.

 We recommend that landowners and developers contact us as early as possible to discuss the proposals in order to determine if the application is viable. We can help highlight any significant stumbling points, minimising time and cost to both parties.
 
These early conversations may also identify other viable options and highlight any other issues for consideration.​

An ordinary watercourse is a watercourse that does not form part of a main river. This includes:
 
  • streams, 
  • drains, 
  • culverts, 
  • dikes, 
  • ditches, and 
  • passages through which water flows.

Natural Resources Wales will continue to consent works on Main Rivers​​​​​​​​​​​​External link opens in a new window and a non-statutory map showing the Main Rivers is available on their website.
You will need consent to ensure that the works to ordinary watercourses do not increase flood risk or cause detriment to the environment. You will need Ordinary Watercourse Consent for:

  • any works likely to affect the flow within an ordinary watercourse;
  • any culverting works (including proposed new sections and alteration to existing; and
  • both temporary and permanent works.

Where relevant, consents issued by The Environment Agency Wales (now Natural Resources Wales) will be valid if they are still within the stated consent period.
See the Land Drainage Act​​​​​​​External link opens in a new window for details.
You will need to submit your application to us, including: ​

  • associated documentation

Following receipt of your application there is a two month statutory determination period. After this time the application will either be granted with conditions or refused.

You must complete the works within the period stated on each individual granted consent.

We are able to impose certain conditions to any granted application, such as to condition the timing and the manner of the works, to ensure works are undertaken in a sensitive manner.

Complete the Ordinary Watercourse Consent application form and submit to the contact details below.
We will consider the impact that the proposed works may have on flood risk and the environment. We will check if required assessments have been conducted, such as a Water Framework Directive Assessment (WFD) or an Environmental Impact Assessment. Cardiff Council can give general advice on what assessments should be carried out but ultimately it is the Developers responsibility to conduct them. We will consider compliance against the legislation for which we have a responsibility for, including:

  • The Environment Act (1995);
  • The Habitats Regulations (2010);
  • The Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC);
  • The Eel Regulations (2009);
  • The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act (1975); and
  • The Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000).

We will also consider if the works takes place on a designated site, including:

  • A Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI);
  • A Special Area of Conservation (SAC); or
  • A Special Protection Area (SPA).

If a WFD assessment is required but has not been completed the consent will be refused with WFD as a reason for refusal. Consent refusals on nature conservation grounds are supported by: Land Drainage Act (Section 61B); Wildlife and Countryside Act for SSSIs (Section 28G and 28I) and Nerc Act (Section 40).
The applicant must make sure that the work does not increase flood risk and that they have consent and permission form any land owners and occupiers affected by the work.

Ordinary watercourse consent from the council does not remove the need for you to obtain other permits, licences, approvals or permissions. It is also your responsibility to consult with Natural Resources Wales if there are protected species on site.

If we need further information to make a decision, it is your responsibility to provide it in a timely manner, acknowledging that a decision will be made two months after the completed application has been submitted. If we have insufficient information, we will not grant consent due to a lack of information.

Failure to complete the consent application form completely, correctly and signed, will delay the application and the form will be returned to you.
A designated site is an area or areas that have a special status as protected areas because of their natural and cultural importance. Examples of these are:

  • SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest),
  • SAC (Special Area of Conservation),
  • Ramsar or SPA (Special Protected Area).

Where works to an ordinary watercourse are within a designated site, we will consult Natural Resources Wales and have due regard for their comments, restraints and suggested conditions.

If the works are taking place on a site with protected species, the applicant must contact Natural Resources Wales directly, in case the works require a licence under protected species legislation.
The regulation of works within ordinary watercourses seeks to ensure that there is no negative impact to flood risk or the environment from any works. To ensure this, we have certain enforcement powers available under the Land Drainage Act 1991 with regard to works undertaken without consent or not in accordance with approved consent details.

Enforcement action is used to rectify unauthorised and unlawful actions which impede the free flow in any watercourse. Any enforcement action will be based on a risk assessment and the severity of the contravention.
When considering enforcement action, the Council will always seek to resolve by negotiations first. The typical method of enforcement will include:

  • Site visits and meetings with the offender;
  • Issue of advisory letters;
  • Issue of formal warning letters;
  • Issue of Legal notices requesting remedial works;
  • Prosecution and reclaiming of costs of prosecution; and
  • Remedial work undertaken by CCC and recharge of costs of that remedial work.

Enforcement will be carried out in accordance with the Land Drainage Act 1991. We cannot issue retrospective consent for completed works and these would be subject to enforcement procedures.
We encourage pre-application discussions. These early discussions will determine whether a more appropriate options that do not require consent could be considered and also ensure that the works have no detrimental impact of flood risk.

For any enquiries relating to ordinary watercourse consent, please contact us.

Flood and Coastal Risk Management
Cardiff Council
County Hall
Atlantic Wharf
Cardiff
CF10 4UW
Email: FCRM@cardiff.gov.uk​


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