Are you a Riparian Owner?

You are considered a “RIPARIAN OWNER” by law if you own land which is adjacent to a watercourse or land which has a watercourse running through or underneath it.

What is a watercourse? A watercourse is… every river, stream, brook, ditch, drain, culvert, pipe and any other passage through which water may flow. A watercourse can be either natural or man-made. Watercourses drain the land, prevent flooding and assist in supporting flora and fauna. Historically, watercourses have taken water runoff from buildings and roads, as well as fields and parks. In the process of development many have been culverted (piped) or changed in other ways. In normal conditions a watercourse may be a dry channel in the ground; in heavy storm conditions it may become a raging torrent. Watercourses do not include public sewers but it could be in a pipe under the ground.

Do you know what your LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES are as a Riparian Owner?
You are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the watercourses to ensure they do not become a flood risk to people, or property. Common problems affecting watercourses are…
  • Allowing silt to build up, which can reduce the capacity of, or block, watercourses.
  • Failing to keep vegetation growth under control.
  • Disposal or storage of garden or domestic rubbish or waste on the banks of watercourses.
  • Failing to clear the entrances to piped watercourses.
  • Failing to obtain consent for any building, planting or alterations within eight (8) metres of the bank.
The Land Drainage Act 1991 sets out the legal responsibilities of Riparian Owners such as yourself. These include:
  • To pass on water flow without obstruction, pollution or diversion that would affect the rights of others.
  • To maintain the banks and bed of the watercourse (including any trees, or shrubs growing on the banks) and any flood defence that exists on it.
  • To maintain any approved structures on their stretch of the water course and keep them free of debris. These may include trash screens, culverts, weirs and mill gates.
  • Riparian owners must not build new structures (for example a culvert, bridge, or board walk) that encroach upon the watercourse or alter the flow of water or prevent the free passage of fish, without first obtaining permission from the Local Authority, or Environment Agency.
  • Allowing silt to build up, which can reduce the capacity of, or block, watercourses.
  • Failing to keep vegetation growth under control.
  • Disposal or storage of garden or domestic rubbish or waste on the banks of watercourses.
  • Failing to clear the entrances to piped watercourses.
  • Failing to obtain consent for any building, planting, or alterations within eight (8) meters of the bank.
WATCH this West Sussex County Council video which explains Riparian Ownership: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRg8Fyxjt2M&feature=emb_title