Water impounding—licences and enforcement
Water impounding—licences and enforcement

The following Environment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Water impounding—licences and enforcement
  • Prohibition on unauthorised impounding
  • Exemptions
  • Prosecution
  • Enforcement notice
  • Existing unlicensed impounding works
  • Works notices concerning existing unlicensed impounding works
  • Interaction with the Environmental Damage Regulations
  • Future changes

Prohibition on unauthorised impounding

A person must not impound inland water unless they hold a valid impoundment licence and comply with all the terms and conditions.

An impoundment licence is required where a developer or landowner:

  1. begins, or causes or permits any other person to begin, to construct or alter any impounding works at any point in any inland waters which are not discrete waters, or

  2. causes or permits the flow of any inland waters which are not discrete waters to be obstructed or impeded at any point by means of impounding works

Discrete waters are lakes, ponds or canals that do not discharge to any other inland waters.

Impounding works are either:

  1. the construction or alteration of any dam, weir or other works in any inland waters by which water may be impounded, or

  2. any works for diverting the flow of any inland waters in connection with the construction or alteration of any dam, weir or other works falling within (a)

The reference to alteration includes removal or partial removal.

The prohibition is subject to:

  1. the requirements of any drought order, and

  2. specified statutory exceptions which the developer/landowner can prove existed at 1 December 1991 and were identified for the purposes of Water Act 1963 (repealed) as an 'alternative statutory provision'

The prohibition does not apply to:

  1. any transfer of water from one