IDB ratings draft statutory instrument consultation

IDB ratings draft statutory instrument consultation

ADA welcomes the publication of a new consultation seeking views on Defra’s plans to update how internal drainage boards allocate their costs to farmers and local authorities.

Defra is seeking views on the content of a draft statutory instrument (SI), which will enable implementation in England of sections 94 to 97 of the Environment Act 2021 that amend and insert various provisions in the Land Drainage Act 1991. The draft SI is entitled: The English Drainage Boards (Alternative Valuation Calculation) Regulations 2024.

Funding of internal drainage boards

IDBs are mainly funded locally through drainage rates paid directly by agricultural land occupiers and special levies issued to local authorities, based on valuation calculations set out in the Land Drainage Act 1991.  These valuation calculations determine the proportional split between the charges for the agricultural (“chargeable properties”) and non-agricultural land (“other land”) in their districts.

In determining the special levies charge paid by local authorities in relation to the non-agricultural land, the Land Drainage Act 1991 refers to rateable values shown in a “non-domestic rating list of a charging authority on 1 April 1990” and “valuation list (for domestic properties) on 31 March 1990”. This is in accordance with Section 37 (5)(a) and (b) of the Land Drainage Act 1991. However, in many parts of England, these 1990s rating lists are no longer available as they are either missing or incomplete. Council tax has since replaced the rateable value of domestic properties, which is based on a property’s capital value as opposed to its rateable value. Therefore, it was necessary to develop a methodology for calculating a ‘notional rateable value’ of residential properties from its capital value, in each property band.

The draft SI provides an alternative valuation calculation that IDBs may use to value the land, allowing them to apportion their expenses between the beneficiaries of their work. ADA is supportive of Defra’s intention to keep the new valuation calculations as similar as possible to the current arrangement utilising contemporary data, and leave the apportionment between drainage rates and special levies broadly unchanged.

Where IDBs choose to use the new valuation calculations, they would need to update aggregate values for both chargeable properties (i.e. agricultural land and buildings) and other land (non-agricultural land) to maintain the balance of apportioning their costs. To achieve this the IDBs will need to use more up-to-date data for the other land from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and more current data for the chargeable properties to ensure consistency.

ADA is strongly supportive of these reforms, enabling a more accurate basis for the fair proportioning of drainage rates and special levies by existing IDBs. ADA has been assisting Defra in these reforms by helping to test the proposed new valuation methodology with a number of IDBs using contemporary data provided by the VOA.

Without the changes as set out in Environment Act 2021 and the supporting draft SI, existing IDBs cannot extend their boundaries, and new ones cannot be established. ADA is in favour of enabling IDBs’ careful management of water levels for the benefit of the landscape and communities to be expanded to other part of England, where there is local demand and support for the locally coordinated management of lowland watercourses and flood and water control assets.

The Defra consultation on the draft statutory instrument: The English Drainage Boards (Alternative Valuation Calculation) Regulations 2024 will remain open for responses until one minute to midnight on Friday 19 April 2024.

ADA would encourage all members to read and respond to this consultation. ADA will also be responding and if you have views that you would like us to consider, please email