Flood and Water Management Act 2010: changes to reservoir regulation take effect



Among a raft of much-publicised measures introduced by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 are certain key changes to the way in which reservoirs in England and Wales are regulated and managed.

The aim of the changes is to improve reservoir safety by taking a more risk-focused approach to regulation.

Under the new provisions:

  • While all "large raised reservoirs" still need to be registered with the Environment Agency, the definition of what constitutes a "large raised reservoir" has been amended.
  • From now on, a reservoir will be considered:
    • "large" if it is capable of holding 10,000 (as opposed to 25,000) cubic metres of water or more; and
    • "raised" if it is capable of holding water above the natural level of any part of the surrounding land.
  • Only those "large raised reservoirs" which are specified by the Environment Agency as "high risk" will be subject to the periodic inspection regime.
  • The Environment Agency has the ability to designate any large raised reservoir as "high risk" if:
    • human life could be endangered in the event of an uncontrolled release of water from the reservoir; and
    • the reservoir does not satisfy the conditions specified in the Secretary of State's regulations, which have yet to be published.
  • The construction of any large raised reservoir - or any works carried out to such a reservoir which either increases or decreases the capacity of that reservoir - will need to be carried out in accordance with the statutory regime.

Developers of larger schemes will therefore need to have regard to the cost and management implications of these new provisions when designing and implementing their surface water attenuation strategies.

In particular the construction of any large-scale balancing ponds which fall within the definition of a "large raised reservoir" will, from now on, need to be registered with the Environment Agency.

For further details, see Wragge & Co's analysis of what these changes mean for developers.


Key Contact

Ed Colreavy, director, +44 (0)121 629 1908, edward_colreavy@wragge.com

Ashley Mitchell, partner, +44 (0)121 685 2807, ashley_mitchell@wragge.com

This alert may contain information of general interest about current legal issues, but does not give legal advice.

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