What is a Flood Risk Activity Permit and why do I need one?

In conjunction with the Environment Agency, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs have deemed the need for a Flood Risk Activity Permit as necessary under legislation (as of 6th April 2016), depending on the characteristics of the area under development. The need for a Flood Risk Activity Permit replaces that of Flood Defence Consents – which now fall under the new Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 system (EPR).  According to the official GOV.UK website, you must follow the environmental permitting rules if you want to do work:

  • on, or within 8 metres of, a main river
  • on, or within 8 metres of, a flood defence structure or culvert
  • in a flood plain
  • on, or within 16 metres of, a sea defence

 

A flood map for planning can be used to check if the area under the proposal of development falls on or near a main river, or an ordinary watercourse. Main rivers are highlighted on the map with a dark blue line. Applicants are strongly advised to contact the Environment Agency directly for any proposals close to a main river.

All environmental permits (including the new flood risk activity permits) must be applied for by an Environmental Advisor. A permit is separate to and in addition to any planning permission granted. However, you do not need to apply for an environmental permit if:

  • your activity meets the description and conditions of one of theexempt flood risk activities (-a list of which can be found on the GOV.UK website)
  • youregister your exemption with the Environment Agency before you carry out any work

 

If you are not eligible to register for an exemption, an environmental permit must be applied for in order to gain permission to carry out any work. It is breaking the law if activities are carried out without a permit should one be required.  A ‘standard rules permit’ includes a set of fixed rules for common activities. Alternatively, a ‘bespoke permit’ -for all other flood risk activities – is tailored to the risks from your activities. Both can be applied for through the GOV.UK website.

 

You must complete a risk assessment if you want to either apply for, or change, a bespoke permit. You must demonstrate that your proposal will not:

  • increase flood risk
  • impact on drainage
  • harm the environment

 

If undertaking work on or near a main river in Wales you will need to apply for a Flood Risk Activity Permit through Natural Resources Wales. Similarly, registering for an exemption to said permit must be applied for through their exemptions webpage. If the area under development stands near an ordinary watercourse, as oppose to a main river, you will need to contact the authority responsible or that particular watercourse and apply for an Ordinary Watercourse Consent.   

 

 

Previous Flood Defence Consents up to 06/04/16 Changes to Flood Defence Consents from 06/04/16 NEW Flood Risk Activity Permit from 06/04/16
Applies to Main Rivers, Sea Defences, Floodplains, Flood Defences and Ordinary Water Courses. Ordinary Water Courses. Main Rivers, Floodplains, and Flood Defences (-near a main river or sea defences).
Obtained From Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Internal Drainage Board or Local Authority. Local Authority, Internal Drainage Board or Natural Resources Wales. Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales.
Costs £50 per activity in the application. £50 per activity in the application. £170 for the first activity, followed by a £40 charge for each additional activity. A compliance charge of £70 also applies for all types of permits. Charges remain the same for both standard and bespoke permits.
Determination Period 2 months. 2 months. Typically 2 months, but may take up to 4 months.
EMS Requirement No Environmental Management System required. No Environmental Management System required. Environmental Management System (EMS) is required to be in place for works which require an Environmental Permit.
Risk Assessment Requirement No risk assessment required, however a statement on the effect the works may have on the environment must be provided. No risk assessment required, however a statement on the effect the works may have on the environment must be provided. A risk assessment must be undertaken.
Standard Rules Permit Requirement No Standard Rules permit required. No standard rules permit required. Standard Rules permits available for Flood Risk Activities in England only.
Exemptions to Obtaining a Permit N/A N/A Exemptions on the requirement to have a permit are obtainable in England and Wales.
Other Requirements A Section 339 Highways Act Consent, and a Flood Defence Consent, must be applied for. A Section 339 Highways Act Consent, and a Flood Defence Consent, must be applied for. Requirement to apply for a Section 339 Highways Act will be removed when a Watercourse Activity Permit has been obtained.

 

More information on the costs of a Flood Risk Activity Permit can be found on page 78 of the Environment Agency’s ‘Environmental Permitting Charging Scheme & Guidance’.

Alternatively get in touch with our team who are able to offer expert advice regarding everything in this post. It is always important to seek expert advice when considering undertaking any kind of development