Flood risk management: our responsibilities and powers


Buckinghamshire Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) for Buckinghamshire.

This means that we are responsible for coordinating the management of risk of flooding from 'local sources', such as:

  • surface water runoff (including snow and other precipitation)- water on the surface of the ground, which has not entered a watercourse, drainage system or public sewer
  • ordinary watercourses (all watercourses not designated as 'main rivers', ordinary watercourses are typically smaller than main rivers)
  • groundwater (all water which is below the surface of the ground and in direct contact with the ground or subsoil)

Our responsibilities

In carrying out our role we have a number of key responsibilities, which include:

  • coordination of local flood risk management within Buckinghamshire - including establishing local management and governance arrangements with other key stakeholders to ensure delivery of effective joined up management of flood risk (see section below on the Buckinghamshire Strategic Flood Management Committee)
  • developing and maintaining the Buckinghamshire Local Flood Risk Management Strategy, which will include risks from surface water run-off, groundwater and ordinary watercourses
  • discretionary enforcement powers on owners of private watercourses to undertake maintenance to reduce flood risk
  • decision making responsibility for whether third party works on ordinary watercourses by third parties that may affect water flow can take place (land drainage consenting)
  • being a statutory consultee on all major planning applications with surface water drainage implications

We also have a duty to:

  • investigate significant flooding incidents, to the extent we consider necessary, in order to understand their cause and ensure that appropriate agencies play their role in the effective management of flooding incidents and recovery
  • maintain a register of structures or features which have a significant effect on flood risk
  • exercise flood or coastal erosion risk management functions in a manner consistent with the national and local strategies

Permissive powers

In addition to our responsibilities, we also have a number of permissive powers that we can use to help the management of flood risk, at our discretion.

These include the power to:

  • request information from any person in connection with the authority’s flood and coastal erosion risk management functions
  • designate and register structures and features that affect flooding
  • undertake works to manage flood risk from surface runoff, groundwater or ordinary watercourses. Note that whilst we have statutory powers to carry out works for flood risk management purposes, we are under no statutory duty to do so. Ultimately, responsibility for reducing the impacts of flooding to any property remains with the owner of that property, not with Buckinghamshire Council or any other risk management authority

Who else is responsible for flood risk management

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency has

  • responsibility for taking a strategic overview of the management of all sources of flooding and coastal erosion
  • has operational responsibility for managing the risk of flooding from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea (as well as being a coastal erosion risk management authority)

They have the power to carry out work on main rivers to fix a flooding issue, but would charge this cost to the riparian owner.

Riparian owners

Riparian owners are responsible for maintaining the:

  • watercourse or ditch running through or adjacent to their land
  • any vegetation on the banks, such as trees
  • both ordinary watercourses and main rivers

If you’re a riparian owner, see how to maintain a river or stream you own.

Water companies

Water companies are responsible for managing the flooding and flood risk from public sewers and watermains.

Buckinghamshire Highways

Buckinghamshire Highways are responsible for fixing drainage and flooding issues on highways and roads across Buckinghamshire.

Bedford Group of Internal Drainage Boards

Bedford Group of Internal Drainage Boards are responsible for:

  • managing water levels in the watercourses within their area, see the Internal Drainage Board's area map
  • permit works on an ordinary watercourse in an Internal Drainage Board (IDB) district under the Land Drainage Act 1991

IDBs are non-statutory consultees in the planning process, but local planning authorities will consult with IDBs in relation to drainage matters.

Buckinghamshire Strategic Flood Management Committee (BSFMG)

We have a dedicated strategic flood management committee who coordinate all local flood risk management activities in Buckinghamshire.

The committee works with:

  • the Environment Agency
  • water companies
  • internal drainage boards (IDBs)
  • other partner organisations (invited on an ad-hoc basis)

The committee is chaired by the Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment.

Strategies, plans and assessments

Who to contact in the event of flooding

There is no single organisation responsible for flooding in Buckinghamshire.

Find out who to contact in the event of flooding in Buckinghamshire.

Contact us

To contact the flood management service for general enquiries, you can email [email protected]