In many instances the partial or full blockage of a watercourse can result in flooding to land or in the worst case properties, businesses and/or critical infrastructure. Where Gwynedd Council have been made aware of a potential blockage or obstruction to an ordinary watercourse we will look to work with all parties involved to help resolve the problem before considering the use of permissive enforcement powers.
The key aims of enforcement in flood risk management are to ensure the proper flow of water in a watercourse and over the floodplain, the control of water levels and security of existing assets. To achieve these aims, enforcement action may be used to rectify unlawful and damaging, or potentially damaging works, always using a risk based priority approach.
Gwynedd Council has permissive powers under Section 25 of the Land Drainage Act to ensure that appropriate maintenance is carried out by riparian landowners on ordinary watercourses. These powers can be exercised if it is deemed that a lack of maintenance or an alteration to a watercourse pose a flood risk.
Therefore, if a landowner carries out actions that adversely impact on the flood risk to another landowner’s property, we have the right to serve a legal notice on the responsible party to carry out remedial work to resolve the issue. It should be noted that these powers are permissive and are not a duty and as such the exercising of these powers is at our discretion.
Exercising of permissive enforcement powers will only take place when necessary and as a last resort when all other opportunities to resolve the issue have been explored. In coming to a decision on whether to exercise its powers, Gwynedd Council will take into account:
- The consequences of non-compliance;
- The past compliance performance of the offender;
- The likely effectiveness and risk of the enforcement options; and
- The public interest.
A decision to take enforcement action will only be fully considered where all other avenues of communication have been exhausted and/or there is robust evidence to support that residential properties or critical infrastructure have been affected or at direct risk of flooding.