You may need permission to do work on or near a river, flood defence or sea defence.

These rules apply to England only. There are different rules for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

There are different ways of getting permission, depending on whether you’re working on:

  • a sea defence or main river (including its flood plains and flood defences) - check which are main rivers
  • other watercourses

You can be prosecuted and may be fined or go to prison if you don’t get permission when you need it.

Main rivers and sea defences

Check if you need a permit - you might just need to tell the Environment Agency about your work.

If you already have a flood defence consent you don’t need to apply for a new permit.

Other watercourses

For work on or near all other watercourses you must apply for Ordinary Watercourse Consent.

Apply by contacting either:

Environment Agency
Telephone: 03708 506 506
Minicom: 03702 422 549
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges