Residents Can Help With Flood Defences

10 January 2011, 13:35 | Updated: 10 January 2011, 13:37

As the snows melt pushing water levels higher, residents living by river banks and canals in Milton Keynes are being encouraged to help reduce the risk of flooding.

New guidelines are being issued by the Environment Agency in response to a European Directive to tackle the growing threat from flooding.

In recent years Cumbria and Gloucestershire saw some of the most serious flooding in a generation which prompted the Government to look at how floods can be reduced or prevented.

The European Water Framework directive outlines how Governments should put in place strategic flood plans. These plans mean everyone in the community has a role to play including those people who own properties with waterways passing next to or over their property.

Those residents living by waterways are known as riparian owners and some of their responsibilities include:

  • maintaining river beds and banks keeping them clear of debris,
  • allowing the flow of water to pass without obstruction and,
  • controlling invasive alien species such as Japanese Knotweed.

Many waterside rights have been established in common law for years but better flood risk management means changes to waterways are increasingly falling under local authority planning control.

Residents may need planning permission from Milton Keynes Council and the agreement of the Environment Agency to carry out work to areas by local waterways.

These works can include bank protection works and the construction of culverts, bridges or outfalls to the watercourse. 

Permission is needed because changes to waterways and drainage can not only affect the immediate area, but have a knock on impact on the potential to flood downstream.

More information about your rights and responsibilities can be found in the “Living on the edge” guide produced by the Environment Agency which can be downloaded at