Flood & coastal erosion risk management (FCERM)

This page provides information about the flood and coastal erosion risk management in Northumberland.

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Northumberland County Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and the Coast Protection Authority (CPA) for Northumberland.

Northumberland County Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and the Coast Protection Authority (CPA) for Northumberland.

The Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) team are responsible for:  

  • Managing flood risk from local sources. 
  • Controlling erosion and managing the coastline. 

The FCERM team largely focuses on: 
  • Attracting funding for new coastal and flooding schemes. 
  • Responding to planning applications with regards to surface water flood risk. 
  • Providing land drainage consents for works which affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse. 

We are aa Lead Local Flood Authority and Coast Protection Authority. We take a partnership approach to funding flood and coastal management projects. Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA) makes up a large proportion of the funding. Schemes are usually only made possible by contributions from other sources, such as:
  • regional Local Levy funding
  • public contributions
  • private contributions.   
FDGiA is applied for by producing a business case for approval from the Environment Agency. The business case should set out the technical, social and economic viability of the project. How much FDGiA we receive for a project is largely based upon how many households will be better protected from flooding and coastal erosion. Other infrastructure is also considered.  

To find out more about our flood and coastal risk management schemes click on the interactive map. For specific informaton on schemes in the county, see the flood risk management and coast protection sections.

  For more information on the council’s flood and coastal risk management functions, you can contact us on: 


FCERM Privacy Notice 


Northumberland County Council is the lead local flood authority (LLFA) for Northumberland as defined by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

As a result, the council has a number of duties and responsibilities to assist in the management of flood risk from local sources within our administrative boundary. Sources of flood risk identified as local by the act include: 


  • surface water 
  • ordinary watercourses 
  • groundwater 
  • lakes 
  • small reservoirs 


Roles and responsibilities for flooding document  
  Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment for Northumberland  
PFRA Addendum 


In our role as LLFA, we have developed a local flood risk management strategy, which outlines how we manage flooding in our area and work with other authorities to manage all sources of flooding. 
The strategy plays an important role in formalising an integrated approach to local flood risk management in Northumberland by identifying local objectives and setting out measures with short, medium and long-term actions. This approach helps us manage the risk in a way that delivers the greatest benefit to our residents, businesses and the environment. 
The draft strategy was prepared using feedback from a consultation exercise in the summer of 2014, which provided residents, businesses and organisations the opportunity to share their opinions and personal experiences of flood risk management in the county. 
The draft strategy was made available for consultation between February and April 2015 and closed for comments on 24 April 2015. The strategy was formally approved for implementation by the county council 4 November 2015.  
Local flood risk management strategy documents 

If would like to find out more about the council’s flood risk management functions, please email fcerm@northumberland.gov.uk 


Northumberland County Council has been granted funding as part of the government's The Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme (FCRIP). Our project, Next Generation Flood Resilience, focuses on enhancing the flood warning systems to rural communities using artificial intelligence technology. To find out more follow the link - Next Generation Flood Resilience 

To find out more about our flood and coastal risk management schemes click on the interactive map
Northumberland County Council is part of the Northumbria Integrated Drainage Partnership (NIDP), a partnership of Northumbrian Water, the north east LLFA's and Environment Agency, working together to reduce our communities' risk of flooding from all sources.  
To find out more about the flood risk studies we are involved in, please visit - NWL Community Portal  

Improve your resilience to flooding: 


Install property level resilience: 

Guides on managing surface water at home: 

If you own land or property where a watercourse, culvert, ditch, stream runs through or adjoins your land you are deemed riparian owner. Find out more about owning a watercourse.

If you would like to report a flood on your property from a local source, please fill out the flood investigation form. If you are suffering from a flooding incident now and require assistance, please contact your emergency services.  
You can report road flooding here 
If you are concerned about flooding from a main river or the sea, you should contact the Environment Agency.  
Check the main river map 
If you are concerned there may be a blockage in the public sewer, you should contact Northumbrian Water
Northumberland County Council is defined as a coast protection authority under the Coast Protection Act 1949.

Northumberland County Council is defined as a coast protection authority under the Coast Protection Act 1949.

We have responsibility for controlling erosion and managing the coastline by regulating the protection work of others (e.g. landowners) and promoting our own coast protection work. 

Northumberland County Council does not have a legal obligation to protect any of its coastline from erosion. 
Northumberland has a coastline of approximately 132km (82 miles), stretching from the Scottish Border in the north to Seaton Sluice in the south. The coast has a rich diversity in its physical form and natural environment. 
This includes dramatic cliff lines, complex river estuaries, extensive and beautiful beaches, large urban and industrial areas and valuable agricultural land, all of which fringe our unique coastline. 
Northumberland coastal area is largely designated and protected for its natural beauty, its wildlife, habitats, geology and its historical importance. This combination of assets creates a coastline of great value, with a tourism economy of regional importance. 
Much of our coastline is natural, and only has man-made defences at the coastal towns, villages and communities. It isn’t practical or desirable to defend against all erosion risk and this is taken into account within the Northumberland and North Tyneside shoreline management plan (SMP). 
The SMP was adopted in 2009 and sets out the plans and strategies for managing our coastline. The overall aim of the SMP is to set out a plan for a 100-year period, indicating how our coastline should be managed and taking account of the wider implications on the neighbouring coastline and environment. 
It provides a large-scale assessment of the risks associated with coastal processes and presents a policy framework to reduce the risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environment in a sustainable manner into the 22 century. 
Lynemouth Bay Waste Management Scheme
After decades of colliery spoil tipping, the erosion of Lynemouth Bay has accelerated in recent years, revealing sites of historic waste previously buried within the cliffs. Over the last year, the council has been working to investigate the extent and makeup of this waste material, which has included detailed site investigation, sampling and laboratory testing. During this time, it’s also been monitoring the release of waste material onto the
beach, and removing it as necessary. The feasibility study has been published online, please see the link below. 
Feasibility Study
Generic Quantitative Risk Assessment

The Council is committed to finding a cost effective and environmentally acceptable solution to the issues at Lynemouth Bay. To follow the progression, please see the link above. 

To find out more about our flood and coastal risk management schemes click on the interactive map.
Scarborough Borough Council undertakes coastal monitoring on behalf of authorities from the Scottish Borders down to Flamborough Head. The current monitoring project is designed to run until 2021. It involves a variety of surveys at different locations along the coastline. This survey data and inspection reports are collated. It can be downloaded from the North East Coastal Observatory website.  

For Northumberland, the surveys include:
  • cliff stability surveys
  • visual defence condition inspections
  • beach profile/topographic surveys.
Historic and current monitoring reports can be downloaded from the North East Coastal Observatory website.  

This note is designed to advise those wishing to undertake work around the coast. It a summary of the different types of coastal consents that may be needed. Additional factors to consider and links to more information. 

The two main types of development consent required for coastal or marine works are: 

  • Planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for infrastructure to the boundary jurisdiction of the local planning authority (LPA, Northumberland County Council).  Generally, the seaward boundary is the Mean Low Water Mark (MLWM). 
  • A Marine Licence under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 for works below mean high water springs (MHWS). It is assessed and issued by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). 

Depending on the environmental significance of the immediate and adjacent areas, a number of nature conservation consenting processes may also apply, even in cases where works are not deemed to be developments requiring planning permission or a marine licence. Such consenting process might include: 
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Consent under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This is issued by Natural England. 
  • Habitat Regulations Assessment required under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended 2012) if works have the potential to impact European protected sites. 

The entire shoreline of Northumberland, except a small section around Lynemouth, has multiple SSSI, European and international nature conservation designations in place and the above statutory conservation consenting processes are also likely to apply. 

To find out if the location of your proposed works is located within or may affect a designated site, please see the following website:  Defra Magic Map

For developments taking place in the intertidal zone or across the land/sea boundary, for example a slipway, both planning permission and a Marine Licence will be required. 

The planning, marine licensing and nature conservation consenting systems work independently of each other and are administered by Northumberland County Council, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Natural England respectively. 

For all proposals it is advised that you discuss your proposal with your local SSSI advisor, planning officer and MMO officer for initial advice on the permissions that are likely to be required. 


Permission should be sought from all landowners whose land will be affected either permanently, or temporarily during works. 

The Crown Estate owns much of the foreshore and seabed around the UK, between Mean High Water (MHW) and the 12 nautical mile territorial limit including the beds of many estuaries and tidal rivers.  In general, the Crown Estate does not sell these areas but instead grant leases for works and activities occurring on owned foreshores and beds.  If consent is required, a short application form will need to be completed and the application will take up to 4 weeks to process.  For further information or clarification, email consents@thecrownestate.co.uk

In Northumberland, many areas of the shore are under multiple landowners including:
  • the National Trust
  • Northumberland Wildlife Trust
  • private owners

Those proposing development will need perission from the landowner. 

It is also recommended that you consult your Town/Parish Council to inform them of the works. 

Further Information: 

Northumberland County Council Local Planning Authority

Marine Management Organisation

Natural England and SSSI Consents

This section provides information on sustainable drainage systems and planning permission for residential and non-residential developments.

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) are the preferred approach to managing rainfall from hard surfaces and can be used on any site. The main purpose of SuDS is to mimic the natural drainage of the site before development and reduce flood risk. 

Northumberland County Council as the lead local flood authority is a statutory consultee within the planning process. This was made official when the government laid a statutory instrument, making the lead local flood authority a statutory consultee by adding the consultation requirement to schedule four of the development management procedure order. Part (ze) of schedule four requires us to be a statutory consultee for any ‘major development with surface water drainage'. 
Major development will be: 
  1. Residential development: 10 dwellings or more of residential development with a site area of 0.5 hectares or more, where the number of dwellings is not yet known. 
  2. Non-residential development: provision of a building or buildings where the total floor space to be created is 1000m² or more, or where the floor area is not yet known, a site area of one hectare or more. 
Therefore, any major development that is submitted will require a drainage statement or an extended section within its flood risk assessment looking at the disposal of surface water from the development. 

National planning policy requires when determining planning applications, local planning authorities (LPA) should ensure flood risk is not increased elsewhere. Due to increased pressure on the sewerage system and in order to mimic natural drainage, SuDS are generally the preferred method of addressing issues regarding surface water drainage within developments. 
The secretary of state for communities and local government laid a written ministerial statement in the House of Commons on 18 December 2014, setting out changes to planning that will apply to major developments from 6 April 2015. 
The changes will strengthen existing planning policy to ensure SuDS will be provided in new major developments where appropriate. The planning practice guidance has been updated to reflect these changes and non-statutory technical standards for the design, maintenance and operation of sustainable drainage systems have been published online. 
Therefore, any new development submitted to Northumberland County Council will need to incorporate SuDS within its design. Any submitted scheme will need to adhere to national and local standards. 

The 7 North East LLFAs have agreed a set of regional drainage standards to ensure consistency when reviewing planning applications within the NE region. We have developed 22 standards and a proforma that offers additional guidance when producing drainage statements and flood risk assessments to support planning applications. Please see the standards document and check list below. 

North East LLFA sustainable drainage local standards document 
North East LLFA sustainable drainage local standards check list 

.For any development that is classed within flood zones 2 or 3, or within 20 metres of a main river, the Environment Agency are a statutory consultee. 
Check flood risk - Flood Map for Planning 
Further information on the Environment Agency’s role within the planning process can be found here.   
As the lead local flood authority, Northumberland County Council is responsible for approving works that affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse under the provisions of the Land Drainage Act 1991, as amended by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

Section 23(1) of the Land Drainage Act 1991 states: 
"No person shall (a) erect any mill dam, weir or other like obstruction to the flow of any ordinary watercourse or raise or otherwise alter any such obstruction; or (b) erect any culvert that would be likely to affect the flow of any ordinary watercourse or alter any culvert in a manner that would be likely to affect any such flow without the consent in writing of the drainage board concerned.” 
This applies to both permanent and temporary works that are to be within the cross-sectional area of the watercourse. 
It is essential that anyone who intends to carry out works in, under or near a watercourse or flood defence contacts the relevant authority to obtain any necessary consents before starting the work. This is to ensure that any works do not endanger life or property by increasing the risks of flooding or cause harm to the environment.  
If you are unsure whether you require land drainage consent, or wish to speak to us prior to submitting a formal application, please email fcerm@northumberland.gov.uk.  

The land drainage consent application form and associated guidance notes can be downloaded below: 

In addition to the above form, in order to process your application, some of the below documentation might be required: 

  • Method statement 
  • Location map and photos 
  • Environmental protection statement or ecology report 
  • Detailed drawings 
  • Risk assessment 

We are authorised under section 23(2) of the Land Drainage Act 1991 to charge an application fee in relation to the consents required, to cover our costs for examining the application(s). 
The fee is set at £50 per structure and an additional fee of £50 where temporary works within the watercourse are required. Value added tax is not applicable. 
Please send a digital copy of the form and appropriate documentation to: fcerm@northumberland.gov.uk
Payment can be made by card or by sending a cheque to the address below. Please see guidance notes or email fcerm@northumberland.gov.uk for further details.  
Northumberland County Council 
County hall 
NE61 2EF 

We have a statutory period of two months from the date we receive an application in which to grant or refuse consent. Consent will not be unreasonably withheld. 
The granting of our consent should not be regarded as in any way approving the design and soundness of the proposed works, other than in relation to the impact on flows and the effects on the watercourse and its floodplain. 
This section looks at flood investigation reports carried out by Northumberland County Council.

Northumberland County Council, as the lead local flood authority (LLFA), has a responsibility under section 19 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 to investigate flooding incidents in its area when it is deemed necessary and appropriate.