There are over 130 Drainage Districts in England and Wales, varying in size from a few hundred acres to over 100,000 acres, all in low lying areas of the country where flood prevention and land drainage are sensitive issues. Most Drainage Districts are administered by an Internal Drainage Board (IDB), which are single purpose local Drainage Authorities, dealing with the drainage of clean water only.
Public Bodies dealing with drainage matters have a long history which stretches back to 1252, but most IDBs today were established by National Government following the passing of the Land Drainage Act 1930. The activities and responsibilities of the Boards are controlled by this and subsequent Land Drainage Acts, and other subordinate legislation.
Each Drainage District has a defined area, and the Board only has powers to deal with matters affecting that area.
What Does an Internal Drainage Board Do?
The Boards have powers to adopt watercourses within their District for regular maintenance. They do not maintain every individual drain. They also have the power to construct new or improve existing works.
Liaison is maintained with Natural England and other conservation bodies, in order that all works are completed in an environmentally sensitive manner.
In addition to the Land Drainage Act, Boards have powers to make Byelaws to assist in controlling activities adjacent to watercourses. These Byelaws are approved by the then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
IDBs consult with the Planning Authorities on Drainage Matters and comments are returned incorporating Engineering Advice where necessary.
Black Sluice IDB, in common with many IDBs have their own labour force who carry out maintenance and improvement works. These works include operating pumping stations, flail mowing, removing silt and obstructions, piling slipping banks, and maintaining grids, culverts and other flood defence structures.
All properties within a Drainage District are deemed to derive benefit from the activities of an IDB. Every property is therefore subject to a Drainage Rate paid annually to the Board.
For the purposes of rating, properties are divided into a) Agricultural Land and Buildings and b) Other Land (such as domestic houses, factories, shops etc). Occupiers of all "Other Land" pay Council Tax or Non-Domestic Rates to the Local Council who then are charged by the Board. This charge is called the "Special Levy". The Board, therefore, only demands Drainage Rates direct on Agricultural Land and Buildings.
The basis of this is that each property has been allotted an "Annual Value" which were last revised in the early 1990s. The Annual value is an amount equal to the yearly rent, or the rent that might be reasonably expected if let on a tenancy from year to year commencing 1 April 1988.
The Annual Value remains the same from year to year. Each year the Board lays a rate "in the £" to meet its estimated expenditure. This is multiplied by the Annual Value to produce the amount of Drainage Rate due on each Assessment. A breakdown of the rate in the £ is shown on the reverse of the Demand Note to show how money is spent.
What to Do When a Property is Sold
When a sale is anticipated, the Vendor should ensure that the drainage rates for the full year are paid. The paid demand note should then be passed to the Solicitor acting on his behalf, who will then apportion the rate paid at the date of Completion, and obtain the balance due to the Vendor from the Purchaser.
If only part of the property is sold, or if the property is sold in Lots, details should be supplied to the Board in advance. The Drainage Rate and Annual Values will then be apportioned. This will allow the Solicitor to apportion the Rates at Completion as above.
In all cases the name(s) and address(es) of new owners must be notified to the Drainage Board or the Board will consider the original occupier liable for the rate.
What to Do if there is a Change of Use
When Agricultural Land or Buildings upon which a rate is levied is changed to other uses, the Board should be notified. In some instances this may change the basis on which the drainage rate is charged.
Access Arrangements to Watercourses
Please let us know if you place land adjacent to a Board Maintained watercourse into set-a-side or within a Countryside Stewardship or Entry Level Scheme.
What to Do When You wish to Do ANY Work In or Adjacent to ANY Watercourse
When it is proposed to undertake any work in, under, over or adjacent to any ditch or watercourse, the Board should be notified to allow determination of:
- Potential effects of the proposals on the Board's interests.
- Any formal consents which the Board may require to allow such works to be undertaken.