Shropshire Council

Shropshire Council Sandbag Policy

During a flood event there are a range of ways you can make your property more resilient to flooding. In some cases, if used properly, sandbags can be used to divert flood water away from property or provide some protection for a short period of time. They are not effective however at protecting property against deep flood water or where flood water sits against sandbags for a prolonged period. Sandbags are also difficult to handle and troublesome to dispose of.

If you think you are at risk of flooding, do not rely on sandbags as a way to protect your home or business. If you live or work in an area that may be at risk of flooding, you should make sure that you are prepared for this before the flood happens.

Shropshire Council are under no statutory duty to provide sandbags to the general public. Although we are not required to provide sandbags, Shropshire Council will support residents where possible to ensure that they are appropriately prepared for flooding.  

The guidance below sets out how Shropshire Council will make sandbags available to property owners across the County.

Sandbag availability

Shropshire Council hold limited stocks of sandbags for collection by the public at our highways depots around the county.

Supply is on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and limited to 10 sandbags per collection. Please consider the needs of others when collecting sandbags and don’t take more than you need. Please ensure that your vehicle is suitable to transport the weight of sandbags you are collecting.  

If you are collecting sandbags outside of office hours, Shropshire Council maintain a limited supply outside of the site compound. As above these are available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and will only be replenished during office hours.

Sandbag delivery

During storm events Shropshire Councils Highways Teams are fully engaged with responding to flooding across the County. As a result, there is limited additional resource available to deliver sandbags to properties, particularly out of office hours. By the time sandbags arrive at a property it is often too late for them to be effective, and it is also difficult for crews to reach properties if flooding is affecting the highway network.

Delivery of sandbags to individual properties will only be undertaken in exceptional circumstances where the flooding is being caused directly by the public highway* or where requested by the Emergency Services. Where sandbags are delivered they will be prioritised to protect life, critical infrastructure, and then habitable areas of buildings.  Shropshire Council will not deliver sandbags if flooding is being caused by a river/watercourse or runoff from land.

Due to resource pressures Shropshire Council cannot guarantee that sandbags will be delivered during a flood event.

*Flooding from the public highway includes issues caused by blocked gullies, blocked culverts under the highway, or highway drainage capacity issues. Some capacity issues can however be caused by runoff from land exceeding the capacity of the highway drainage network.

Community Flood Action Plans

In areas where a Local Flood Action Group has been established, or where a Parish Council is willing to work on behalf of a community, Shropshire Council may provide a limited number of sandbags to be stored in an agreed location for distribution during a flood event. This approach means that sandbags are available when they are most needed and when they can be more effectively used. 

Sandbags will only be provided as part of a Community Flood Action Plan where there is suitable storage in a neutral place accessible to all can be identified and where agreements on the fair distribution and suitable storage can be made with the in the local community. To discuss the creation of a Flood Action Group for your area please contact 

Sandbag storage

Sandbags will degrade if left outside or in direct sunlight. When storing sandbags, they should ideally be kept in a shed or a garage. If you are unable to store sandbags inside they should be placed under a waterproof tarpaulin or in a location where they will not be exposed to the elements (sandbags deteriorate quicker when wet).

Please bear in mind that sandbags can be heavy to transport from storage to the area where they are needed. If you are unable to move sandbags on your own, please make arrangements with a family member or neighbour to assist you. 

Sandbag disposal

Those collecting/receiving sandbags will be responsible for their disposal. Shropshire Council will not collect sandbags after an event.

Sandbags that have come into contact with flood water must be disposed of as they will be contaminated. You should always wear gloves when handling and disposing of used sandbags and wash hands thoroughly in warm soapy water afterwards.

Disposal should be via the ‘non-recyclable waste’ section at a local recycling centre.

Never allow children to play with the sand from sandbags or place it in sand pits. The type of sand used in sandbags is not suitable for this purpose, and it may also be contaminated.

Other sources of sandbags

If the Council are unable to supply sandbags in advance of any flood event you should make your own arrangements to purchase your own sandbags from your local Builders Merchants. 

Alternative measures to protect your property from flooding are also available. For more information on other ways you can manage the risk to your home please go to The National Flood Forums