Living by a river

Guidance for riverside property owners

Your rights and responsibilities

If you own land adjoining a watercourse, you have certain rights and responsibilities.  In legal terms you are a ‘riparian owner’.  (A watercourse is any natural or artificial channel through which water flows, such as a river, brook, beck, or mill stream.)

Some of your responsibilities include:

  • maintaining river beds and banks;
  • allowing the flow of water to pass without obstruction;
  • controlling invasive alien species such as Japanese knotweed.

Your rights have been established in common law for many years.  However there are some circumstances in which these rights may be affected by other laws.

More information about your rights and responsibilities, our role, the role of other organisations, working on or near a river and the permissions required can be found in the ‘Living on the edge’ – guide.

For more information see the following web site

Environment Agency


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