Last year Bucks CC issued its Land Drainage Enforcement Policy. This essentially lays out how the Council will manage and control water courses in its area. Most of these watercourses (which include rivers, streams and our own Hughenden Valley winterbourne stream) run through properties owned by farms, businesses and households).
Having a watercourse on your property confers rights and responsibilities, which are termed Riparian, meaning relating to the banks of a river or stream. Those of us with the stream in our gardens in the Valley will be aware that for most years it is a depression or ditch in the garden with no water in it, and there is little requirement to pay heed to it other than perhaps cutting grass or weeding it. However, it is important that riparian rights and responsibilities are understood, particularly by affected householders, to ensure proper actions are taken to manage flood risk.
Reproduced here is a section of the Guidance for Riparian Owners, which is part of the Land Drainage Enforcement Policy. The full document can be accessed via the Documents page on the HVDIG web site at: http://www.hvdig.org.
Riparian Owners’ Rights
1. If your land boundary is adjacent to a watercourse it is assumed that you own the land up to the centre of the watercourse, unless stated otherwise in your property
2. If a watercourse runs through or underneath (through a culvert or pipe) land that you own. It is assumed that you own this stretch of watercourse .
3. You have the right to protect your property from flooding, and your land from erosion. However, you must get any plans approved by the relevant authority prior to starting work (see the section on land drainage consent).
Riparian Owners’ Responsibilities
1. You must let water flow through your land without any obstruction, pollution or diversion which affects the rights of others.
2. You must accept flood flows through your land, even if these are caused by insufficient capacity downstream .
3. You must keep the watercourse banks clear of anything that could cause an obstruction and increase flood risk, either on your land or downstream. This includes any litter or loose vegetation, even if they did not come from your land.
4. It is your responsibility to maintain the bed and banks of the watercourse and the trees and shrubs growing on the banks.5. You must keep structures, such as culverts, trash screens, weirs and mill gates, clear of debris.