Flood & coastal erosion risk management (FCERM)

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

This section looks at flood and coastal erosion risk management in Northumberland.

Northumberland County Council, as the lead local flood authority (LLFA) and the coast protection authority (CPA) for Northumberland, is responsible for:
  • managing flood risk from local sources
  • controlling erosion and managing the coastline
The FCERM team largely focus on attracting funding for new coastal and flooding schemes, responding to planning applications with regards to surface water flood risk and providing land drainage consents for works which affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse.

For more information on the council’s flood and coastal risk management functions, please use the contact details below: FCERM Privacy Notice

FCERM Schemes

Seahouses coastal protection scheme
Works on the Main Pier at Seahouses will start on April 1st 2019 for approximately 6 months. 
The pier will be encased in a thick layer of concrete, underwater voids will be filled, in effect, creating a new wall around the pier. 
For further information including parking, access and other key messages please see our website, link below. 
Seahouses coastal protection scheme website. 
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 new 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
  • canals
  • lakes
  • small reservoirs

Under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, lead local flood authority are a designating authority.
We may designate certain structures or features for the purpose of flood and coastal risk management. A person may not alter, remove or replace a designated structure or feature without the consent. 

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.

Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment for Northumberland

Northumberland Flood Action Plan 
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 4th 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
If you would like to report a flood from a local source please fill out the flood investigation form. Please note if you a suffering from a flooding incident now and require assistance please contact your emergency services? 

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.

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.

However, under permissive powers it does carry out works to build, protect, maintain and refurbish defences where it is deemed appropriate to protect the coastal fringe from loss to 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 in to 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 22nd century.
Scarborough Borough Council undertakes coastal monitoring on behalf of authorities from the Scottish Borders down to Flamborough Head. The current monitoring project will run for five years from 2011 to 2016 and will involve a variety of surveys at many different locations along the coastline. 

For Northumberland, the surveys include cliff stability surveys, visual defence condition inspections and 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 with 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), which 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 development 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 which 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 sea bed 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, however, many areas of the shore are under multiple land owners which include the National Trust, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and private owners. Those proposing development will need to identify the appropriate landowner and seek their permission.

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

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
  • 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.
If you prefer, you can post a hard copy to:

Northumberland County Council
County hall
NE61 2EF

Payment can be made by card or by sending a cheque to the address above. Please email fcerm@northumberland.gov.uk for further details. 
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 page 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.

There are many different SuDS features available to suit the constraints of any site. They can include features such as green roofs, permeable paving areas, dry and wet run-off swales, and temporary or permanent ponds and wetlands.

Hard engineered SuDS elements can also be used in high-density commercial and industrial developments. Examples of these include permeable paving, storage tanks and soakaways.
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.

*To aid developers with what information needs to be submitted within any drainage statement, we are currently preparing a set of local standards in conjunction with seven other LPAs. As soon as this is available, a link to the document will be made here.
For any development that is classed within flood zones two or three, or within 20 metres of a main river, the Environment Agency are a statutory consultee.
The following websites provide useful further information on SuDS: Guides on managing surface water at home: