Recreation permits

Permits for organised events

Currently, many organised events occur across our land holdings. These include orienteering, fell running, sponsored horse rides, mountain bike racing, mountain rescue, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, guided walks, local interest groups, Brownies/Scouts, vintage car rallies, sponsored walks, and dog training, among others!

We welcome these events and they have been successfully held for many years. These types of events always require the permission of the landowner whether on private or Countryside Rights of Way (CROW) land. The only time they do not need permission is when they are conducted on foot and solely utilise Public Rights of Way and/or CROW open access land.

However, most require additional land for a start and finish, plus car parking, extra toilets and so on. By working with the event organisers, we can minimise damage, including erosion, and avoid sensitive habitats and nest sites.

Gaining approval

If you are organising an event, you need to download the Application Form (PDF 61 KB opens in a new window) here, or contact the local catchment team to request one; you'll find details below. Once completed, you should return it together with any other requested information, such as route maps and risk assessment.

Before permission is granted, the team check the proposals to ensure that they do not increase the risk of pollution on catchment or adversely impact on statutory and non-statutory wildlife and sites. If an event needs an external body's permission e.g. Natural England, then this is the responsibility of the event organiser.

On granting approval for the event, the organiser will be issued with a permit for recreational activity on United Utilities land. There is a £30 standard administration charge and £1 per competitor for 1-100 competitors (over 100 is negotiable with the local team). Extra charges for additional services may be charged, such as a ranger required to open gates.

If the event is for educational or charitable purposes then all charges will be waived, provided that this will benefit the charity and not the commercial organisers.

Contact details

North catchment team - Lake District
Tel no: 01768 772 334 (during office hours)
The Old Sawmill, Thirlmere, Cumbria, CA12 4TQ

Central catchment team - Bowland
Tel no: 01200 454414
Bowland Estate Office, Catlow Road, Slaidburn, Near Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 3AQ

West catchment team - Rivington
Great House Information Centre, Rivington
Tel no: 01204 691549 (Wed, Sat, Sun & Bank Hols)
West Catchment Office, Rivington Water Treatment Works, Bolton Road, Horwich, Bolton, BL6 7RN
Tel no: 01925 537819 (office hours)

East/South catchment team - Peak District
Tel no: 01706 881049
Longdendale Office, Tintwistle, Near Glossop, Derbyshire, SK13 1HS

Terms & Conditions

When you apply for a permit, you must sign up to the general terms and conditions listed on the reverse of the form. The permit issued may also stipulate some event-specific conditions to legally protect the company and ensure all risks to water quality are minimised. You will also be provided with information so you and your participants understand the impact of recreation on water gathering land.

Risk of diarrhoeal illness from partaking in recreational activities on agricultural land

Organisers have pledged to take action after more than 150 British mountain bikers were laid low with a mystery illness after a marathon race. An official report into the outbreak of vomiting and diarrhoea which followed the Merida Bikes MTB Marathon Series round in Builth Wells, Wales, has concluded that it was probably caused by mud contaminated with sheep droppings. The National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS) and Environmental Health officers at Powys County Council launched an investigation following the event on 5 and 6 July 2008. Officials emailed 664 riders who took part and received 355 responses. Of those, 161 reported symptoms such as tiredness (159), diarrhoea (151) and abdominal pain (131). Only six non-riders were reported to have fallen ill. The investigators concluded that the outbreak was probably caused by campylobacter, spread to the cyclists by mud, which was contaminated with sheep faeces. Heavy rain meant the course was awash with slippery liquid mud which splashed onto riders' hands and water bottles. The report acknowledged that, given the nature of mountain bike events, it would be impossible to eliminate the risk of catching such an infection, but made the following recommendations:

  • participants should avoid using soiled drink and food containers
  • pre-packaged food should be eaten out of the wrapper
  • where possible, hands and utensils should be washed before consuming food and drinks
  • no open food should be served at events
  • drinks produced in large volumes for consumption by participants should be dispensed using a method which does not require the repeated immersion of utensils
  • organisers should consider providing facilities to wash hands and water bottles with clean, running water
  • wherever possible, courses should be re-routed to avoid areas which are heavily contaminated with animal faeces
  • mountain bikers, particularly those who are vulnerable to infection, should be alerted to the potential risk of acquiring zoonotic illnesses from participation in events which cross land used by agricultural and other animals.

See bikeradar website for more information.