King’s Lynn Internal Drainage Board take on Norfolk rivers

Posted: Wednesday 19th November 2014

The Environment Agency will hand over maintenance of the rivers Babingley, Ingol and Heacham to the King’s Lynn Internal Drainage Board.

Changes to the future management of these rivers will benefit both parties and local communities.

Landowners and the public were asked for their views in January 2014 and following a formal legal process the rivers Babingley, Ingol and Heacham have been formally reclassified from ‘Main River’ to ‘Ordinary Watercourse’.


Julie Foley, Area Manager for the Environment Agency, said:

We are happy to work with the King’s Lynn Internal Drainage Board to provide an alternative solution for the maintenance of these 3 watercourses.

This arrangement supports the Government’s ‘localism’ agenda in that it would transfer flood risk management powers and responsibilities to the local community (in the form of the IDB) and would allow local beneficiaries to fund and prioritise river maintenance works.

The final decision was approved by the Anglian (Central) Regional Flood & Coastal Committee and Defra through the Secretary of State.

Permissive Powers

This new agreement will mean that the King’s Lynn Internal Drainage Board, under the Land Drainage Act (Section 14), will have ‘permissive powers’ to carry out maintenance on these 3 watercourses. They will not, however, have a statutory ‘duty’ to carry out work.

The King’s Lynn Internal Drainage Board’s Byelaws (KLIDBB) will now apply along the watercourses and these can be found at KLIDBB. Plans to undertake any works within 9 metres to either side of any of these watercourses are likely to require prior written consent from the Board. The Environment Agency’s Byelaws will also still apply if the proposed works are within 9 metres of any sea defence.

The primary responsibility for maintenance of a watercourse in common law still rests with the riparian landowner.


Phil Camamile, Chief Executive for the Water Management Alliance, said:

We are delighted that the 3 rivers have finally come home! We will be working with the Norfolk Rivers Trust and other partners to develop a maintenance programme for them, which we are very optimistic about. We would welcome other opportunities to work with the Environment Agency in this way.

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