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Flood Risk Activity Permit

Environment Agency permits for construction sites

Flood Risk Activity Permits for Construction Sites

We help contractors and developers to obtain permits in a timely manner. We also advise on the type of permit each project requires and apply for flood risk environmental activity permits to the Environment Agency.

We are proactive in following up the permits and obtaining prompt feedback to begin on-site work.

Our approach allows us to quickly arrive at the construction stage. We have previously worked with clients when the contractor has not yet been appointed, and have created tested environmental management documents to allow flexibility for contractors. 

To access these services, join our growing list of satisfied clients! 

Our Permit Services

We have an excellent understanding of the Environment Agency requirements and regulations for work in proximity to rivers or within the flood zone. We give clear and sound advice on the type of permit required and the timescale associated with it.

Flood Risk Activity Permit Exception Application - Urban Water
From £350.00
We will assess the permit and make the relevant exception application.
Flood Risk Activity Permit Standard Application - Urban Water
Form £450.00
We will make a rules permit application based on your activities.
Flood Risk Activity Permit Bespoke Application - Urban Water
From £1,200.00
We will liaise with the Environment Agency until you receive your permit.
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How do we Deliver Permits?

Go Ahead

We review all of the information and establish the type of permit required.

Evaluate Impacts

Assess the environmental risk for the site and submit to the contractor for inclusion in the construction documents.

Flood Risk Assessment

Consult with the Environment Agency to determine show-stoppers and the permit’s timescales.

Review Information

Review the RAMS, traffic management plan, flood risk assessment and construction phase plan submitted by the contractor.

Flood Risk Activity Permit
Submit Flood Risk Activities Permit For a Bespoke Application

Register the application with all documents and follow up with the Environment Agency for a prompt response, supporting the client if a public consultation is required.

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Our Clear Benefits


Initial Environmental Assessment completed within 48 hours and Environment Agency follow-ups.


We work with the contractor to review and present all of the documents in the correct order.


Our support helps to speed up project delivery, giving you the best chance to obtain timely permit approvals.

No Hidden Fees

Fixed price for all of our flood risk activity permit applications.

Our Flood Risk Activity Permit Methodology

We listen to and work with developers, contractors and the Environment Agency to make permit applications successful.

urban water location flood risk
Obtain project details

We obtain your development’s detailed drawings.

Flood Risk Assessment
Evaluate site

We consult available Ecology databases, habitat surveys and construction activities to determine risks that could impact the environment.

Flood Risk Assessment
Review documentation

Our work includes reviewing the contractor’s RAMS (Risk Assessment and method statements) based on our risk assessment for temporary and permanent works.

Flood Risk Assessment
Liaise with authorities

Provision of feedback to the contractor’s management system which describes the method of work and how environmental risks are managed for both temporary and permanent works. When required, we produce these documents on behalf of the client.

Our proactive engineers are able to understand the complexities of the construction activity to provide the most suitable information for inclusion in the construction management plans.

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Other Services

Flood Risk Assessment
We supply flood risk assessments to help you to receive planning permission. 
Our drainage designs are fully compliant with the requirements provided by the lead local flood authority. 
Flood Risk Assessment
We provide compliancy reports written by expert planning consultants to the local councils. 
Climate Change Adaptation
We work to protect communities by using green infrastructure and nature-based solutions to Zero Carbon. 
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Frequently Asked Questions

When do you need permission to work near a river, flood defence or sea defence?

You will need permission from the Environment Agency if your development is within 8m of a major river or flood defence or 16m from a sea flood defence.

If your development has received planning permission and is within the flood zone but is more that 8m away from a major river or 16m from a sea defence then it does not require permission.

Developments that do not necessitate planning permission but are located within the flood zone (even if they are at a distance of greater than 8m away from a main river or a distance of 16m away from a flood defence) require a Flood Risk Activity Permit.

What is a Flood Risk Activity Permit? ​

A Flood Activity Permit allows construction activities to be undertaken near main rivers, in the floodplain or near flood defence structures.


Any activity within 8m of a main river bank (or 16m from a sea defence) is considered to be a regulated activity and requires a permit from the Environment Agency.

Flood Risk Activity Permit

What are the types of flood risk activities that are regulated?

There are 2 types of regulated activities:

Activity 1: Regulated activities that don’t need permission.
Activity 2: Regulated activities that need permission before you start work. 

There are some activities that can be excluded as long as the operator respects the description and conditions of the given exclusion. There are timescales or charges associated within this process. Work can commence on site at any convenient time as long as they follow the requirements given by the Environment Agency. The excluded activities are:

  • Work in an emergency.
  • If you’ve applied for a Marine Management Organisation licence.
  • Using ladders and scaffold towers.
  • Services crossing a river within an existing structure.
  • Flood protection devices attached to buildings.
  • Minor works on rights of way on or around bridges/culverts and on highways.
  • Erection of fencing in a flood plain (post and rail or post and wire fencing).
  • Temporary use of small fish traps.
  • Noticeboards that are located at a distance of greater than 2m from the top of a river bank.
  • Clearing out a purpose-built sediment trap.
  • Site investigation boreholes and trial pits.

The flood risk activities permits for Wales can be seen on the Natural Resources Wales. 

Flood Risk Activity Permit

What are the exempt flood risk activities?

In order to get permission for construction, the construction activity has to meet the description and conditions of one of the exemptions and then that exemption must be registered with the Environmental Agency. Check if you need a permit.

It is free to register an exemption and it can take up to 21 working days for permission to be granted.

A construction activity cannot be registered under the same exemption more than once for the same project/site address. The activities that can be registered for an exemption are:

  • Electrical cable service crossing over a main river.
  • Service crossings not involving an open cut technique and located below the bed of a main river.
  • Service crossings attached to the outside of existing structures over a main river.
  • The construction of a footbridge over a river no more than 8m wide from bank to bank.
  • The erection of temporary scaffolding in or over a main river for no longer than one month.
Flood Risk Activity Permit
  • The temporary dewatering of a work area, for no longer than one month.
  • The maintenance of a raised river or sea defence.
  • Maintenance of non-raised defensive structures within the channel of a main river.
  • The creation of drinking bays for livestock on the bank of a main river.
  • The construction of a single small access platform located on the bank of a river or projecting into/over a main river.
  • Outfall pipes less than 300mm diameter through a headwall.
  • The reparation and protection of main river banks with natural materials (up to 10m of main river).
  • The restoration of bank slips and erosions using fallen materials.
  • The creation of channel habitat structures from natural materials (excluding weirs and berms).
  • Installing temporary small rafts for surveys.
  • Gravel-cleaning for fish spawning beds. 
  • The placing of stones or logs within a main river to enhance habitats.
  • The construction of eel pass devices on existing structures.
  • The construction of fish passage notches in existing impounding structures.
  • The removal of silt, sand and any other materials from bridge arches and culverts.
  • The removal of silt, sand and any material from bridge arches and culverts.
  • The removal of accumulated sand and silt from the bed of up to 1.5km of man-made ditches, agricultural and work drains and previously straightened main rivers.
  • Dredging to remove accumulated silt and sand from the bed of up to 20m of a main river. 
  • The excavation of shallow wetland features (totalling 0.1ha in a flood plain).
  • The building of raised flood defences (around a maximum of 6 adjoining properties).
  • Constructing bankside wildlife refuge structures. 
  • The improvement of existing tracks and paths.

The permit will be registered in the Environment Agency database

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What is a Standard Rules Flood Risk Activity Permit?

The ‘standard rules permit’ applies only if the proposed work is fully within the rules of the given permit and if the permit requires the provision of a management system that describes the risk management method.

An application charge of £170,00 applies for the first activity and an additional charge of £40,00 applies for each subsequent activity. It may take up to 13 weeks for permission to be granted.

The activities to which a standard rule permit applies:

  • The temporary dewatering of a main river (affecting up to 20 metres).
  • The construction of an outfall pipe (of up to 500mm diameter) through a headwall and into a main river.
  • Installing a clear span bridge.
  • The temporary storage of a main river on a flood plain.
  • Temporary diversion of a main river.
  • Channel habitat structure made of natural materials.
  • Installing an access culvert no more than 5 metres long.
  • The reparation and protection of a main river bank (up to 20 metres).
  • The erection of temporary scaffolding on a main river (affecting up to 20 metres).
  • The excavation of a pond or wetland in a main river floodplain.
  • Site investigation boreholes and temporary trial pits.
  • The removal of 100 metres of exposed gravel from shoals and bars.
  • The installation of mooring pile in a main river.
  • The excavation of steps, ramps and similar structures into the existing bank profile of a main river.
  • The installation of water gates through a main river.

What is a bespoke Flood Risk Activity Permit?

An application for a bespoke permit has to be made if the construction activities do not fit within any of the exclusions, exemptions or standard rules.

An application charge of £170.00 applies for the first activity, and an additional cost of £50.00 applies for each subsequent activity. It may take up to 5 months for permission to be granted, with a minimum decision time of 6 weeks.

The application for the bespoke permit must include the following:

  • The EA forms
  • Method of Work (RAMS)
  • Risk Assessment
  • Management System

The RAMS must include the Risk Management techniques given in the Risk Assessment.

Flood Risk Activity Permit

As a statutory undertaker, do we need flood risk activity permits?

The Environment Agency requires a Flood Risk Activity Permit for activities that do not require planning permission and are within the flood zone, such as the statutory utility undertaker works. For example, installation of underground cables, water mains, sewers, gas and oil mains.

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What are the requirements for statutory undertaker works within the flood zone or under main rivers?

The EA requires a Flood Risk Assessment for the proposed development if the watercourse has been classed as ‘critical’ and may be liable to flood.

If the proposed works entail construction or pipelaying beneath Main Rivers, the Environment Agency requires survey plans showing longitudinal river bed sections covering 200m either side of the proposed pipe crossing point.

The EA will define the average gradient of the existing riverbed. To this gradient line the EA will provide levels showing the clearance required between the uppermost prominence of the proposed construction relative to the average gradient line. The clearance is usually 1m from the base of river bed.

Flood Risk Activity Permit

What other requirements are needed for work within the flood zone or estuaries?

  • Permissions must also be obtained from riparian landowners.
  • Environmental Screenings Reports are required at an early stage to determine critical ecosystems.
  • For work in estuarial waters, further consultation is required with other bodies, including Crown Agents, DETR and DEFRA.
  • District Councils may ask for permits however they do not have the power to demand or issue Consent for Works in main Rivers and Floodplains.

What is the application consent related to the water sector?

Main Rivers:
For water companies the Section 109 – Water Resources Act 1991 covers all permanent and temporary works construction, including pipe crossings, beneath, on bed, and over rivers and lying within a plan area of 8m each side of the brink of the river, or 4m from the foot of an embankment on the landward side.

Non-Main Rivers:
In water companies the Section 23 – Land Drainage Act 1991, this covers all permanent and temporary works constructions, including pipes, on bed and over watercourses, especially dams and weirs which may obstruct water flows.

Flood Plains (associated with Main Rivers):
Section 34 – Land Drainage Act 1976. With the exclusion of the plan area described in ‘Main Rivers,’ this act encompasses all permanent and temporary works construction.