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Flooding and farming

Rights & Responsibilities of riparian landowners

If you live near a water source such as a river or a stream, you have rights and responsibilities in relation to the water source and flooding. Some of these are outlined below.

  • You may own land up to the middle of the watercourse. This depends on what your title deeds show.
  • You have the right to protect your property from flooding and erosion by carrying out works to your land. You may need to obtain planning permission before any work can be commenced.
  • You have the responsibility to pass on flow without obstructing of polluting the water otherwise affecting the rights of the owners downstream.
  • This may include a responsibility to maintain the bed of the watercourse by clearing any debris if failure to do so could cause damage to downstream owners.
  • You may have flood defences such as walls and embankments on your property, which are vital for the protection of both yourself and others.

The above is for general information only. Specific legal advice should always be sought on the application of the law in any particular situation. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any material contained on or in this website without seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice.