What is the Drainage Council?

The Drainage Council (‘the Council’) for Northern Ireland is a non-Departmental Public Body constituted under the Drainage (NI) Order 1973. The Council has a general scrutiny role in relation to the Department’s drainage functions, and has a statutory duty to ensure uniformity of treatment of drainage throughout Northern Ireland.

Functions of the Drainage Council

The Drainage Council for Northern Ireland is responsible for ensuring the impartial and uniform application of the DfI Rivers' drainage and flood defence programme throughout the Province.

Designation of watercourses

It is the Council’s responsibility to decide which watercourses and sea defences should be maintained by the DfI Rivers at public expense. The Council 'designates' such watercourses and sea defences. Over 6,800 kms of watercourses and 26 kms of sea defences have been designated since the Council was established in 1947.

Parameters for designation

In deciding to designate a watercourse the Council must be satisfied that any drainage works needed are outside the capability of landowners and that works at public expense on the watercourse would provide value for money.

Council decisions on designation or de-designation of watercourses are open to review by the Lands Tribunal on appeal by any aggrieved party.


The Council may also decide to de-designate a watercourse or sea defence if circumstances change and its maintenance at public expense is no longer justified.

Recommendations for designation / de-designation of a watercourse may be put forward to the Drainage Council by any member of the public as well as by the DfI Rivers or Government Departments.

Consideration of Drainage/Flood Defence Schemes

The Drainage Council is charged with considering all works/schemes that the DfI Rivers proposes to undertake at public expense to ensure impartiality and value for money.

The Drainage Council considers:

  • DfI Rivers plans for drainage and flood defence schemes which satisfy cost benefit criteria
  • details of any emergency works carried out
  • any drainage issue likely to have an impact on the public
  • DfI Rivers Annual Report and Accounts, and Business Plans

Consultee role

As determined by the Drainage (Northern Ireland) Order 1973 Part II the DfI Rivers must consult with the Drainage Council on a number of environmental aspects of any proposed drainage/flood defence works or schemes.

The DfI Rivers must consult with the Drainage Council on:

  • drainage/flood defence works or schemes which are considered likely to have a significant impact on the environment
  • drainage/flood defence works or schemes which are considered not likely to have a significant impact on the environment
  • environmental statements relating to all drainage/flood defence schemes
  • notices regarding environmental aspects of drainage/flood defence works and schemes

Map of designations approved by the Drainage Council

This map shows details of designations (watercourses and sea defences) approved by the Drainage Council, and which are maintained by the DfI Rivers at public expense. Over 6,800 kms of watercourses and 26 kms of sea defences have been designated since the Council was established in 1947.

Drainage Council publication scheme

As part of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) all public authorities are required to produce a scheme for the proactive release of information to the public. In line with this the Drainage Council for Northern Ireland have produced a publication scheme specifying the information that it produces, along with details on how this information can be obtained.

Listed below are the details of the information produced relating to the Drainage Council for Northern Ireland.

Information available online

The Drainage (NI) Order 1973

Minutes of meetings of the Drainage Council

The Drainage Council meets approximately 3 times per year and minutes of meetings are recorded by the secretariat to the Drainage Council. Minutes can be viewed using the links below, or by writing to the Drainage Council for NI at the address provided below:

Information available upon request

The following can be requested by contacting the Drainage Council

Rules and regulations 

The rules and regulations for the Drainage Council are made by the Council and approved by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).

Press notices 

Current notices in press regarding vacancies on Drainage Council, job specification, blank applications, guidance and confirming current appointments to Drainage Council.

Induction material provided to newly appointed Members of the Drainage Council

Including History of State Interest in Drainage and the Birth of the Drainage Council, Criteria for Designation and De-Designation of Watercourses, Definition of Drainage Works, and Procedures for Referral to the Drainage Council.

Criteria for Designation and De-designation of Watercourses

This sets out the legal background to designation of watercourses for maintenance at public expense.

Rules of Procedure for Drainage Council

Rules made by the Council on 23 February 2000 and approved by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (now DfI) in pursuance of paragraph 7 of the First Schedule to Drainage (NI) Order 1973.

Business books provided to Drainage Council

Containing details of designations accepted at the last meeting and designations, schemes and works for proposal at the Council meeting.

Register of Members' Interests

Contains declarations of any personal or business interest which may potentially conflict with their role as a Drainage Council Member.

Attendance record of individual members

For the current term.

Total expenses of the Drainage Council

Expenses incurred in the current meeting arrangements and travel expenses claimed.

Report of any current review or audit of Drainage Council

To ensure efficient and effective function.

Contact the Drainage Council

If you wish to contact the Drainage Council, you can do so at the following address:

Secretariat to the Drainage Council
c/o DfI Rivers
49 Tullywiggan Road,
Co Tyrone
BT80 8SG.

Telephone: 028 8676 8342
Email: rivers.registry@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk
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