Loughborough Information Page

Closed 22 Jan 2024

Opened 8 Feb 2022


Update - Dec 2022

We have recently updated the river modelling for Loughborough to improve our understanding of flood risk in the town.  This includes the Wood Brook and Burleigh Brook.  The updated flood outlines can be seen here Flood map for planning - GOV.UK (flood-map-for-planning.service.gov.uk) and they show a reduction in the areas of Loughborough at risk from flooding.

We have done this by using better and more accurate data, and using the latest hydrology and modelling techniques.  Along with using our technical expertise to review the modelling and our local catchment knowledge to assess how well the model represents flooding, which has affected a community.

Modelling is really important as it underpins the work of many different teams within the Environment Agency. Realistic and accurate modelling helps us demonstrate the best course of action. Therefore it is important that we invest time and resource to keep our models updated and to create models where we do not have them.

Local detailed modelling has many benefits, which include:

  • Updating our flood mapping products including the Flood Map for planning
  • Supporting our capital investment programme
  • Providing the best available information for customers through our responses to Requests For Information (RFI), and our statutory planning and permitting activity
  • Supporting asset management and maintenance
  • Supporting incident management preparation, response and recovery

Our free Flood Warning Service will change to reflect our improved understanding of flood risk.  The flood warnings for the Wood Brook in Loughborough will be updated to cover the same extent as the new extreme flood outline (Flood Zone 2 in the Flood Map for Planning) in early December.  Customers whose properties now fall outside of the new flood risk area will continue to be registered for flood warnings until March 2023, after which notifications will be sent if properties are to be removed from the service.  However, any customers wishing to continue receiving the flood warning after March 2023 can do so by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or emailing  floodresilience.eastmidlands@environment-agency.gov.uk

Update - Sept 2022

Jacksons Civil Engineering have completed ground investigations surveys on our behalf to inform options to reduce flood risk in Loughborough. The work took place at Nanpantan Reservoir and on land adjacent to the Moat Brook. It lasted two weeks and the team used machinery to collect info about ground conditions from exploratory holes. 


Loughborough has a long history of flooding with detailed records dating back to the 1920s.  As a result of severe flooding in the mid-1920s, public works projects were undertaken on the Wood Brook and the Burleigh Brook through the town. The works entailed culverting, channel straightening and bank lining/reinforcement resulting in the heavily engineered channels that are still in place today. 

Source: Environment Agency

There were significant flood events in Loughborough in 1998 and 2007, with the most recent events occurring in November 2012, October 2019 and three in 2020.  On each occasion up to 50 properties / businesses were flooded.  This flooding was river flooding, which includes the Wood Brook main river watercourse.

Source: Environment Agency

Loughborough - 2019  Source: Environment Agency

Loughborough - 2019  Source: Environment Agency

Flood Risk for my area
You can obtain a flood risk summary and view flood risk maps for your area by visiting: www.gov.uk/check-long-term-flood-risk

Flood Risk Management
The Environment Agency carries out maintenance, improvement or construction work on 'main rivers' to manage flood risk. We are also responsible for working in partnership with the Met Office to provide flood forecasts and warnings. The main river map (link below) shows which rivers are designated as ‘main rivers’. In Loughborough, this includes the River Soar, Wood Brook, Burleigh Brook, Black Brook, Willow Brook, Grammer School Brook, Hermitage Brook, Shortcliff Brook and a stretch of Moat Brook.

To see a map of the Main River network, please visit: 
Main River Map (arcgis.com)

Other rivers are called ‘ordinary watercourses’. Lead Local Flood Authorities, District Councils and Internal Drainage Boards carry out flood risk management on ordinary watercourses.

Risk Management Authorities (RMAs) for Loughborough are:

Routine Maintenance
Our routine maintenance work for Wood Brook and Burleigh Brook includes channel maintenance work to improve the brooks ability to move water downstream and reduce flood risk to people and property.

This work involves making the watercourses bed and sides smooth by controlling weed and plant growth. Where appropriate, we increase the channel capacity by dredging or de-silting the river bed to reinstate it back to its original capacity. We look at dredging as an option where it’s technically effective, good value for money, does not significantly increase flood risk for others downstream and is environmentally acceptable. Understanding where dredging will – and won’t – reduce flood risk is key. We must be sure it will reduce flood risk to local homes and businesses and won’t increase flood risk downstream. The effectiveness of dredging also varies substantially from river to river and within a particular river, so we assess it on a location by location basis. We consider the environmental impact of all our flood risk management work. Depending on the location, dredging may damage wildlife and ecosystems. Removing vegetation can remove shade and increase water temperature, making fish more susceptible to stress in hot weather.

We also inspect the watercourses regularly and remove any debris, and blockages such as fallen trees which may pose an increase in flood risk where observed. Please contact your local authority if you are concerned about any rubbish being deposited in the brooks as they are responsible for fly tipping.

We also carry out tree and bush management work on some sections of these brooks which includes bush and scrub clearance and tree trimming. However, it is the responsibility of the riparian owner to remove any fallen trees or overhanging branches in their land from the watercourse. Trees and shrubs on the bank should also be cut back if they could reduce the flow or cause flooding to other landowners’ property. Landowners normally own a stretch of watercourse if it runs on their land.

This link https://www.gov.uk/guidance/owning-a-watercourse explains the rights & responsibilities of riparian owners.

Riparian owners are able to carry out flood risk management works themselves, and in order to carry out this work they would need to apply for a Flood Risk Permit.  These are regulated under Environmental Permits, and permission is required from the Environment Agency before work can be carried out. More information on exemptions and permits can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/flood-risk-activities-environmental-permits Where an application is made, we will work with the applicant to ensure that the correct paperwork is sent in with the application, which will describe the method of works and how any risks will be managed.

Our routine maintenance work also includes bridge/culvert inspections, penstock inspections, flap valve inspections, planned debris runs, weed screens inspections and are carried out as part of a routine inspection regime. This includes the removal of blockages carried out at the same time as these inspections. We also regularly inspect the condition of our assets, and undertake repairs where required.

The Environment Agency routine maintenance programme is now published on our external website if you need any further details:

Incident Response
We issue Flood Warnings for the Wood Brook, Black Brook & River Soar in Loughborough. To sign up for this free service and receive these notifications, please visit Sign up for flood warnings - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Our incidents range from Category 1 (major flooding) to Category 4 (no impact). We will use our resources to react to the incidents posing the highest risk, which will depend on various factors such as weather forecast, people and properties at risk and environmental impact.

Our duty officers, who operate on a 24/7 roster, monitor the river levels and a number of debris screens in the town.  We have CCTV cameras pointing at the debris screens and the field team ensure they are clear.  They also carry out patrols in the area to check for issues in the river during heavy rainfall.

Wood Brook & Tributaries Flood Risk Management Scheme
We are developing the Wood Brook & Tributaries Flood Risk Management Scheme with the aim of protecting residential properties as well as local businesses, Loughborough University and other key infrastructure. The project aligns with the aspirations of the Loughborough Town Deal to regenerate the town centre.  

The preferred option to help reduce Loughborough’s flood risk is to store water in upstream storage areas, identifying opportunities for Natural Flood Management, along with improving the flow of water in the town’s urban channel.  There are multiple factors that need to be considered, including landowner consent, storage locations and ground conditions, to name a few.

We are working closely with our stakeholders, including Charnwood Borough Council, Severn Trent Water and Leicestershire County Council.  This will allow us to better understand the risk from surface water flooding and interactions with the rivers. 

The project is in its early stages and we anticipate the business cases to be developed in 2022/23. 

Black Brook, Thorpe Acre improvements
The  flood embankments along the Black Brook watercourse provide protection to many residential and commercial properties in the Thorpe Acre area of Loughborough. These embankments were constructed in the 1970’s and in recent years visual signs of deterioration had been noted during  inspections. We have made the following improvements:

January 2012 -  repairs completed along a section of embankment adjacent to Morrison’s Supermarket

May 2012 -  site investigation to establish the stability of the embankments and to identify potential opportunities for flood defence improvements and environmental enhancements

2015 -  a detailed topographical survey undertaken for all the Flood Defence Assets and the watercourse channel at Thorpe Acre. Hydraulic modelling was carried out to ascertain the flood risk to the community

2017 -  Asset Stabilisation work was undertaken and completed in November 2017

January 2019 - Asset inspection identified low spots on some of the embankment crests and these were repaired and the work completed by May 2021

2022 - The flood defence embankment assets are in a good condition and we are looking to undertake a mechanical survey of the flap valves and penstocks due to their age

Leicestershire County Council Surface Water Modelling
Leicestershire County Council have secured funding for a surface water modelling study to improve surface water flood risk mapping in the county.  The Wood Brook in Loughborough will be the first catchment to be studied and will complement the Environment Agency’s current capital project.  The modelling will enable Leicestershire Council to align its work on surface water flood risk with the work on the Wood Brook, and together develop solutions which take into account all sources of flooding. 

Useful information
For information on protecting yourself from flooding and becoming more resilient, please visit Prepare for flooding: Protect yourself from future flooding - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The Government's policy on flood and coastal erosion risk management, Flood and coastal erosion risk management: policy statement - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Lead Local Flood Authorities
  • Local Risk Management Authorities


  • Flood management