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There is no single organisation responsible for all flooding across West Northamptonshire. Instead, it is a group approach with different organisations and landowners managing different types of flooding.

Drainage responsibilities

You can find out who is responsible for different types of drainage below.

Responsibilities for urban drainage

  • private soakaways: drain runoff from roofs and private paved areas directly into the ground - responsibility of the property/landowner
  • road gullies: collect runoff from the highway and pavements - responsibility of the Highways Authority
  • surface water sewers: take runoff from the highway and/or surrounding land to a watercourse or sewage treatment works - responsibility of either the Highways Authority (if it drains only the highway) or the Water and Sewerage Company (if it has been adopted)
  • downpipes: take runoff from roofs and discharge to a soakaway, a sewer, or the highway - responsibility of the property owner

Responsibilities for rural drainage

  • piped ditch: ditches are often piped/culverted to provide access - responsibility of adjacent landowner for maintenance
  • roadside hedges and trees: responsibility of adjacent landowner for maintenance
  • verge: responsibility of the Highways Authority for maintenance
  • highway grip: this is a drainage channel dug through the verge between the highway and ditch - responsibility of Highways Authority for maintenance
  • roadside ditch: responsibility of adjacent landowner for maintenance

Organisation roles and responsibilities

Below shows who is responsible for what in West Northamptonshire, as well as useful contact details and when you may need to contact them. For contact details of any of the below organisations, see It's an emergency.

Riparian owners are responsible for maintaining the watercourse or ditch running through or adjacent to their land as well as the vegetation on the banks. This is to allow water to flow naturally and prevent flooding.

Riparian owners can face legal action if the lack of maintenance of their watercourse causes flooding.

Land ownership is sometimes unknown, disputed, or difficult to work out. To find out who owns certain parcels of land (and therefore whether they have a riparian responsibility), obtain copies of title registers and title plans using the online Land Registry services.

Town and Parish Councils as well as Communities both play an important role in managing flood risk at the community level. They can help gather information on areas at risk of flooding by reporting flood incidents.

Communities and individuals at risk of flooding should prepare Community and Household Flood Plans. Residents can also get involved with the community and local councils by becoming a Flood Warden. In addition, Communities and Parish or Town Councils can be crucial in raising additional funding for local flood defence measures and for undertaking regular maintenance.

The Environment Agency is responsible for flood risk management activities on main rivers across West Northamptonshire, for regulating reservoir safety, and providing river flood warnings. They have the power to undertake work on main rivers to fix flooding issues but will charge a cost to the Riparian Owner. You can check your flood risk.

West Northamptonshire Highways are responsible for fixing drainage and flooding issues on highways and roads across West Northamptonshire. This includes blocked drains and gullies on the roads; however, they are not normally responsible for ditches alongside roads. In most cases the responsibility is with the adjacent landowner.

National Highways is responsible for drainage of the motorways and some of the A roads in West Northamptonshire. These are the M1, M45, A5, A14, A43 between the M40 Junction 10 and M1 Junction 15a, the A45 between Thrapston and the M1 Junction 15.

We are responsible for coordinating the management of flood risk from surface water, groundwater, and ordinary watercourses. However, this does not mean that they can or will undertake works to fix a flooding issue, but they can investigate to find out who the Riparian Owner is and therefore who is responsible; and advise on potential solutions. The cost of any works to fix these flooding issues will be charged back to the responsible person or organisation.

West Northamptonshire Council Local Planning Authority is also responsible for reviewing flood risk in planning applications.

Contact us to report surface water, groundwater, or ordinary watercourse flooding.

Anglian Water Services, Severn Trent Water and Thames Water Utilities are the water and sewerage companies who are responsible for managing the flooding and flood risk from public sewers and water mains across West Northamptonshire. This includes making sure they can maintain essential water supply and sewerage services during a flood.

They are also sometimes responsible for removing surface water from your property via the public sewer system for treatment.

In Northamptonshire there is a very small area covered by an Internal Drainage Board, which is around the Deanshanger and Old Stratford area of South Northamptonshire. The Bedford Group of Drainage Boards is responsible for managing water levels in the watercourses within this area.

Contact the Bedford Group of Internal Drainage Boards if you are planning to carry out any work on an ordinary watercourse in their area.

You can contact the Bedford Group at 01234 767 99 or online.

Alternatively, you can download their Consent Application Form following the guidance laid out on their website.

For all other ordinary watercourse consents, contact us by emailing [email protected]

Find out more about West Northamptonshire Council’s role in managing flood risks: