A hand-delivered envelope came through the door just now. Addressed to "The Occupier" it almost went straight in the bin, but something made me think twice and open it up. Inside was a letter from the Environment Agency.
Apparently I am a "riparian owner" -- the owner of land that forms the bank of a watercourse. What shocked me was that the Ouse Dyke, which makes one side of our boundary, is classified as a "main river".
When does a hill become a mountain, a puddle a pond or a stream a river? Who knows! One thing I do know is that what we have running past our house is definitely not what I'd call a river and by no means a main river. It's a stream, if that. Although its actually called a dyke. Teehee.
The letter states that it's the agency's job to manage the flood risk, but that I too have responsibilities, which the letter sets out to summarise. More on that here -- "Living on the edge".
You can get an idea of what I'm talking about here. The dyke doesn't actually run through the garden, in that you can't actually see it or make a "water feature" of it. To get to it you have to take the ladders to the bottom of the garden and climb down the wall in to it.
Here it is after a particularly heavy down-pour:
Here's a photo of it about half a mile upstream looking back down towards us and the local church.
Despite the alarming nature of the letter and learning I own land next to a main river and thus live in a flood risk zone, what made me take notice was the part where it states that I need special "consent" from the Environment Agency if I plan to build "any structure... ...on the bank of the watercourse".
It's as if they read my mind and knew my plans to knock down the garage and rebuild it. The picture below is a grab I took when I worked at our local county council. Dead centre is our garage. As you can see it's on the bank of the "river". Drat!
As if seeking the usual planning permission wasn't hassle enough I now need to talk to the environment agency too...