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Court of Appeal: Environment Agency not required to compulsorily purchase land to carry out flood defence works

DATE: 02 Aug 2017

If the Environment Agency wants to carry out flood defence works on private land, but the landowner refuses to give his consent, is it sufficient for the Agency to rely on its general powers of entry under s. 172 of the Water Resources 1991, or must it obtain a compulsory purchase order (s. 154) or a compulsory works order (s. 168)?

In Sharp v North Essex Magistrates’ Court [2017] EWCA Civ 1143, the Court of Appeal (Gloster, Gross and Briggs LJJ) held that it was sufficient for the Agency to rely on its powers of entry, thereby upholding Haddon-Cave J’s judgment below.  Giving the judgment of the court, Gross LJ reasoned that this is “the natural construction of s. 172 of the WRA” (at [38(iii)]).

Dan Kolinsky QC and Gwion Lewis acted for the Environment Agency.