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Ordinary Watercourse Regulation

The purpose of ordinary water course regulation is to control certain activities that might have adverse impact on flood risk and the environment. The Council are responsible for the regulation of all ordinary watercourses in the area


Ordinary watercourses include streams, drains and ditches, and passages through which water flows that do not form the network of main rivers. Main rivers are regulated by Natural Resources Wales.  Ordinary watercourse regulation consists of two elements:

  • Enforcement action to rectify unlawful and potentially damaging work to a watercourse
  • Issuing consent for changes to ordinary watercourses that might obstruct or alter the flow of a watercourse


Riparian ownership

A riparian owner owns land adjoining a watercourse and therefore has certain rights and responsibilities. 




Making an Application

Please note: We encourage pre-application discussions in advance of the consent application. By having a pre-application discussion, options can be considered that do not require consent that has no adverse affect on the watercourse. If consent is still required, pre-application discussions can ensure that applicants fully understand the requirements and any potential alternative ways of undertaking the works that does not require consent.


The application process can take upto two calendar months, so please allow sufficient time in your construction timetable.


There is a charge of £50 for each structure or operation for applications made under the Land Drainage Act 1991 and determination of the application will not commence until both the application and fee are received.


Consent is not given retrospectively and you will be required to remove any works constructed before consent is granted whether it is compliant or not.



Water Framework Directive Assessment: Certain consentable activities or works will require a Water Framework Directive (WFD) Assessment to be carried out.  The purpose of the WFD (Directive 2000/60/EC) is to establish a framework for the protection of surface waters (including rivers, lakes, transitional and coastal waters) and ground waters throughout the EU territory.  Pre-application discussions will identify, or rule out, the need for such an assessment.  Please note that if required the WFD Assessment must be completed prior to submission of an application for consent.  If a WFD assessment is deemed necessary and not supplied consent will be denied.


Submission: If you wish to submit an application by email please ensure that any supporting documents are attached.  If these attachments exceed 10MB please send these to us on CD by post to the address given at the end of the application form.  You can email your completed application form, including the text ‘Ordinary Watercourse Regulation’ in the subject line, to:


Ordinary Watercourse Regulation

Vale of Glamorgan Council

Visible Services & Housing

Alps Depot




It is essential that the application form is completed accurately and for accompanying information to be clear. If any information is missing, determination of your application could be delayed.


Please ensure that a cheque made payable to ‘Vale of Glamorgan Council’ for the correct fee is submitted by post.  Please write ‘Ordinary Watercourse Consent Fee’ on the back of the cheque to aid processing


  •  Applicant Responsibilities

    The applicant is required to arrange the works so that there is no increase in flood risk to third parties and to ensure they have consent and permission of any land owners and occupiers affected by the works.


    Ordinary Watercourse Consent from the council does not remove from the applicant the necessity for other permits, licences or approvals or permissions. 


    If the council requires further information to make the decision, it is the applicant’s responsibility to provide this in a timely manner, acknowledging that a decision will be made two months from receipt of the complete application and fee. If the council has insufficient information available to base a decision upon then consent will not be granted.


    If the planned works may also affect a main river or the sea, it is the applicant’s responsibility to apply to the Environment Agency for consent as well as Vale of Glamorgan Council.

  • Determining an Application

    In determining an application we will consider the impact the proposed works would have on flood risk and the environment.


    We will check if all the required assessments have been conducted, such as a Water Framework Directive Assessment (general advice will be provided on what assessments should be carried out but ultimately it is the applicant’s responsibility to conduct them). 


    Compliance with the legislation for which the authority has responsibility for will be considered, including:

     - Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC)

     - Habitats Regulations (2010)

     - Environment Act (1995)

     - Eel Regulations (2009)

     - Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act (1975)

     - Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) 


    We will also consider if the works takes place on a designated site, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) or Special Protection Areas (SPA). 


    Granting Consent: If the council is satisfied that the proposed work will not have a detrimental impact on flood risk and the environment then consent will be issued. Reasonable conditions may also be applied to the consent, for example, applying to the manner of the works or restricting timing and working periods due to fish / bird / mammal activity. 


    Withholding Consent: If the proposed works are deemed to have an unacceptable impact on flood risk, or the environment, then consent will be denied.  Similarly if there is insufficient information available to make a determination consent will be withheld.  Pre-application discussions with the council should minimise the likelihood of consent being denied and we would encourage all applicants to contact us prior to submitting an application.  If consent is denied the reasoning behind the decision will be clearly communicated to the applicant.  If an applicant believes that Ordinary Watercourse Consent had been unreasonably withheld, or that the conditions imposed are unreasonable, then they have a right of appeal.  Details on the appeal process are available from the council upon request.3




If works have been carried out without consent, and where Vale of Glamorgan Council deems that consent would have been required, works cannot be retrospectively consented. We will normally take action to see the ordinary watercourse is put back to the condition it was in beforehand.


The council applies a risk-based approach to enforcement where unconsented works have been carried out on ordinary watercourses.


If you have noticed works to an ordinary watercourse in your local area, please contact us to determine whether the works required consent and whether an application for consent was made or not.