To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration has been given to the merits of giving local authorities greater powers to (a) carry out routine maintenance on and (b) remove obstacles from watercourses.
Local authorities have permissive powers to undertake works to manage flood risk on ordinary ("non-main") watercourses outside internal drainage districts under the Land Drainage Act 1991, including maintenance works and removal of obstacles. For those watercourses designated as "main river", this power is vested in the Environment Agency. Watercourses are designated as main river (enmained) in general if they create significant flood risk. An exercise to establish which ordinary watercourses created the greatest flood risk resulted in 1,800 watercourse lengths being enmained between 2004 and 2006.