A number of organisations are involved in flood risk management.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
Defra has overall national responsibility for policy on flood and coastal erosion risk management, and provides funding for flood risk management authorities through grants to the Environment Agency and local authorities.
The Environment Agency
The Environment Agency is responsible for taking a strategic overview of the management of all sources of flooding and coastal erosion. This includes, for example, setting the direction for managing the risks through strategic plans; providing evidence and advice to inform Government policy and support others; working collaboratively to support the development of risk management skills and capacity; and providing a framework to support local delivery. The Agency also has operational responsibility for managing the risk of flooding from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea, as well as being coastal erosion risk management authority. As part of its strategic overview role, the Environment Agency has published a National Flood and Coastal Risk Management Strategy for England. The strategy provides information designed to ensure that the roles of those involved in managing flood risk are clearly defined and understood. The Environment Agency will be able to tell you if a watercourse is a 'main river' or an 'ordinary watercourse'.
Lead Local Flood Authorities
Lead Local Flood Authorities (unitary or county councils) are responsible for developing, maintaining and applying a strategy for local flood risk management in their areas and for maintaining a register of flood risk assets. They also have lead responsibility for managing the risk of flooding from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses. In this area the Lead Local Flood Authority is Kent County Council (KCC).
KCC Flooding and drainage policies and guidance which include their Local Flood Risk Management Strategy and Surface Water Management Plans - SWMP (our Borough falls within both the Maidstone and Malling SWMP and the Tonbridge & Malling SWMP)
South East Coastal Group
The members of this group include; the coastal councils, the Environmental Agency, Kent County Council, English Nature and Dover Port. They have developed the Medway Estuary and Swale Shoreline Management Plan.
Although our Borough has no shoreline, as the River Medway is tidal this includes Wouldham, Burham, Snodland, Larkfield, Aylesford and Ditton.
District Councils are key partners in planning local flood risk management and can carry out flood risk management works on minor watercourses, working with Lead Local Flood Authorities and others, including taking decisions on development in their area which ensure that risks are effectively managed. District and unitary councils in coastal areas also act as coastal erosion risk management authorities. In this area we, (Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council) are the District Council.
Internal Drainage Boards
Internal Drainage Boards are independent public bodies responsible for water level management in low lying areas, they also play an important role in the areas they cover (approximately 10% of England at present), working in partnership with other authorities to actively manage and reduce the risk of flooding. In this area the Internal Drainage Boards are:
- The Lower Medway Drainage Board covering Cuxton, Faversham, Hoo, isle of Grain, isle of Sheppey, Lower Halstow, Minster, Seasalter, Sheerness, Sittingbourne and Snodland.
- The Upper Medway Drainage Board covering East Peckham, Edenbridge, Forest Row, Frittenden, Groombridge, Headcorn, Lingfield, Maidstone, Marden, Paddock Wood, Penshurst, Staplehurst, Tonbridge and Yalding.
Riparian owners are the owners of land or property next to a river, stream or ditch, they have both rights and responsibilities for watercourses. Riparian owners should carry out regular maintenance necessary to maintain the flow in a watercourse. If the proper flow is impeded, the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Board or Local Authority can take legal action to ensure that the problem is put right.
Works in, over, under or near a watercourse
It is essential that anyone who intends to carry out works in, over, under or near a watercourse contacts the relevant authority to find out whether a Land Drainage Consent (also known as a Flood Defence Consent) is required before starting works. This is to ensure that any works do not endanger life or property by increasing the risk of flooding ir cause harm to the water environment. Works to a weir, dam, culvert or similar obstruction, which may affect the flow of a watercourse, will also require land drainage consent. Some works may also need planning permission.