Flood defence consents are required where works on or near main rivers or sea defences pose a risk of impact on flood defences. On 6 April 2016 the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales)(Amendment)(No. 2) Regulations 2016 (2016/475) come into force which bring these consents under the broader Environmental Permitting regime, by requiring that (subject to various exceptions and exemptions) an environmental permit be held where a flood risk activity is carried out.

The regulations set out an extensive range of flood risk activities including erection of structures in, over or under a main river; works to structures that are likely to affect the flow of water or drainage work in respect of a main river; dredging activities; works on flood plains that are likely to divert or obstruct floodwaters; and activities in the vicinity of flood defences which are likely to cause damage, endanger stability or reduce effectiveness of those defences.

Individuals and businesses intending to carry out any such works should be aware of the change to the regulatory regime, both with regard to the permitting requirements and also the range of exemptions and exceptions included within the Regulations, including, for example, those aimed at reducing the regulatory burden in respect of minor maintenance work. The Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales intend to issue full guidance later this year.