Internal Drainage Boards in Somerset only own very small areas of land so most maintenance or improvement works are undertaken on land owned by individuals, partnerships, companies or organisations.
The legislation under which internal drainage boards were created provides us with permissive powers to undertake works. It not only provides us with statutory powers to enter onto land to undertake works but also to purchase land even if it is contrary to the wishes of the owner.
If we wish to enter onto land to undertake works or surveys then we may do this without your agreement but only after we have given you a minimum of 7 days’ notice. In these circumstances we inform you of our intention by a Notice of Entry. This Notice may take several forms depending on the type of work we plan to undertake and its extent. However our preference is always to enter onto land to undertake works with your agreement, so early on in the process of planning our work we will contact owners and discuss with them the work we plan to undertake and how it might fit in with your use of the land. We hope that we can balance the needs of our work with your use of the land. Unfortunately this is not possible in all circumstances and that is why we have the powers to enter under Notice.
If we have agreed with you to undertake works, we will normally confirm that agreement by the issue of a Notice. We believe that this secures and makes clear the rights and responsibilities of both parties.
The Sections of the Land Drainage Act 1991 (the Act) that we rely on to enter and undertake works are Sections 14, 14A, 15 and 64 of the Act. Set out below is a reprint of the legislation as it appears in the Land Drainage Act from 1991 which also includes amendments caused by the Flood and Water Management Act of 2010.
Section 15 of the Act covers the work that we undertake specifically on the channel of a watercourse to maintain or improve it. This allows the Board to remove any material from a watercourse and to deposit it on the banks of the watercourse, or on such width of land adjoining the watercourse as is sufficient to enable the spoil to be removed and deposited by mechanical means in one operation. We could also take the material away and use it for other purposes such as the construction of floodbanks or infilling areas of land.
The Board is not required to make any payment for losses (including crop losses) resulting from such a deposit, unless any injury arising from the deposit could have been avoided if the Board had exercised its powers with reasonable care.
For all our other work, Section 14 applies and this part of the Act requires the Board to pay compensation to any person who sustains a loss as a result of an action (or works) by the Board. In order for a board to make payment for any loss suffered as a result of an “injury,” the loss will have to be demonstrated, justified and proven and submitted to the Board as a claim. Any claim for a loss as a result of works will be considered in the light of any betterment provided by the works and any duty that the landowner/occupier would have had as a Riparian Owner.