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River Thet Classification

Helen Foley | 26th October 2016

The River Thet flows through the Norfolk countryside, from south of Attleborough, to west of Thetford, where it joins the River Little Ouse.  The River Thet is currently classified as ‘Main River’.  This means that the Environment Agency have ‘powers’ (but not a duty) to carry out work on the river, such as channel maintenance and obstruction clearance.  From just downstream of the source of the Thet, near Attleborough, to the A1066 Melford road bridge in Thetford, the River Thet is classified by the Environment Agency as low flood risk.  The Environment Agency prioritise where they carry out maintenance work on a river according to the flood risk to the surrounding area, with more maintenance work being undertaken on watercourses which pose a high flood risk.  This means that the Environment Agency carry out limited maintenance work on the River Thet, upstream of the A1066 road bridge in Thetford.


The Environment Agency are working with the local Internal Drainage Board (IDB); East Harling, to look at the option of handing the watercourse over to the IDB.  This is done through a process called ‘de-mainment’, whereby ‘Main River’ is re-classified as ‘Ordinary Watercourse’. This process involves the Environment Agency working closely with the IDB to consider how the River Thet could be maintained in the future.  If the IDB were to ‘adopt’ the River Thet, they would be able to carry out works on the watercourse. The Environment Agency are also discussing with the IDB how it will take into account the environment when carrying out any works on the river. 

The section of the River Thet upstream of East Harling is within East Harling IDBs district, and they would automatically be able to adopt the watercourse once de-mained.  For them to be able to adopt the section downstream of East Harling, they will need to extend their boundary to cover this section of river.


We are running two drop in events at Attleborough Town Hall, for you to find out more about these proposals.  The details of the events are:


  • Wednesday 23 November 2016 from 10:00-13:00, Attleborough Town Hall


  • Monday 28 November 2016 from 16:00-19:00, Attleborough Town Hall


The events will be attended by the Environment Agency, East Harling IDB and Norfolk County Council, and we will endeavour to answer any questions you have about the proposals.  After we have addressed all the issues raised, we are required to carry out a formal consultation, which we hope will take place in spring 2017. 


For further information about the proposals for de-mainment, and any details on the events, please contact Liz Taylor at the Environment Agency by e-mail:, or by telephone: 020 302 51886.

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