Register your flood risk activity exemption: environmental permits

Flood risk activity exemptions and how to register.

You may need an environmental permit if you want to work in, over, under or near a main river or flood or sea defence.

Some flood risk activities are exempt from needing a permit and you can carry out the work if you register an exemption.

Flood risk activity exemption rules

You must register your exemption.

You can only register as exempt if your activity:

  • meets the description and conditions set out in the exemption

  • doesn’t increase flood risk, adversely affect land drainage or harm the environment

If you don’t follow these rules the work you are doing will not be exempt. It could also be illegal and the Environment Agency may take enforcement action or prosecute you.

It is your responsibility to check that you can meet the description and conditions of an exemption. You can find these in the exempt flood risk activities guidance. If you can’t meet the description and conditions of an exemption you must apply for an environmental permit.

When you can’t get an exemption

You won’t be able to register an exemption to carry out work at certain locations if they are:

  • environmentally sensitive, eg a European protected site or Site of Special Scientific Interest

  • too close to a flood defence structure operated by the Environment Agency

Additional requirements

You may also need to get planning permission if you’re carrying out an exempt activity.

You also need to check whether there are any protected species in the location you want to carry out your exempt activity. You can check this at your local environmental records centre..

If there are protected species there, you must make sure your activity doesn’t harm them. Find out more about protected species.

You may also need to contact Natural England to discuss any permitting or licensing requirements they may have.

A permit or exemption does not give you the right to enter land or property owned by someone else to carry out your work. You need to get the owner’s permission unless you are acting under your own separate statutory powers.

Register your exemption

It’s free to register an exemption.

To complete your registration you’ll need:

  • the description for the exemption you want to register - you can find these in the exempt flood risk activities guidance

  • the name and address of the individual, business or organisation that will be carrying out the activity

  • the registration number and registered address details if you’re registering the activity for a limited company or limited liability partnership

  • the name and address of the person who will be sent the registration confirmation

  • a 12-digit National Grid reference for the location of your work

You can only register one exemption at a time.

Contact the Environment Agency

Contact the Environment Agency if you have queries about flood risk activity exemptions or need help registering.

General enquiries

National Customer Contact Centre
PO Box 544
S60 1BY

Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.

Due to the current health emergency we have reduced the times our phone lines are open. This is under review and we hope to be able to extend them soon. If possible please contact us by email at

The impact of COVID-19 on our teams means you may experience some delays in responses as most of our staff will be working from home. We are currently unable to deal with post sent to our offices in the usual way.

Published 6 April 2016
Last updated 21 July 2016 + show all updates
  1. Link to exemptions registration service added.

  2. First published.