Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are drainage rates?
Drainage rates are levied as a charge (at a rate of Xp in the £1, the rate is set each year) on agricultural land in an internal drainage district. The rates are levied to pay for the special local drainage or flood protection works which are carried out by the internal drainage board of that district. The value on which rates are set basically represents 1991 land rental values.
2. Why have I got to pay drainage rates?
These rates are payable because you occupy agricultural land within an internal drainage district. These districts are areas where special local measures are needed to properly manage flood risk. These measures, involving maintenance, improvement or new works to watercourses or structures are managed by an internal drainage board and these boards levy rates on occupiers of land to meet their expenses.
3. I don’t get a drainage rate bill for my house.
Land which is not used for agricultural purposes (as defined in schedule 5 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, click here) do not receive a direct drainage rate demand. Rates are however, effectively charged on this land through the Special Levy issued to the local authority.
4. My land is not used for agriculture.
Agricultural use includes uses such as for paddocks and, to be rated, the land does not need to be used as part of an agricultural business. If however, you still feel that your land is not used for agriculture please contact the Rates Office
5. Why am I being charged for use of Common Land?
Under the Land Drainage Act, common land is treated as agriculture land and rates are charged based on the % grazing rights. If you don’t have grazing rights for any common land but have received a bill for common land contact the rates office.
6. Why are you charging me rates? I have no watercourses on my land.
Rates are payable because your land is in an internal drainage district and they meet the costs of the arterial protection provided by the Board of that district. They are not charged because you do, or do not, have watercourses on your land.
7. Who is responsible for maintaining the watercourses running through my land?
The primary responsibility for the maintenance of any watercourse rests with the owner of that watercourse. This will usually be the owner of the land adjoining that watercourse. Where a channel is marked as an IDB drain, that Board’s byelaws apply to it and the Board will often undertake required drainage works. The Land Drainage Act 1991, under which the Boards operate, however, enables them but does not require them to carry out drainage works.
for more information on owing a watercourse and your responsibilities please see the gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/owning-a-watercourse
8. What is an Internal Drainage Board (IDB)?
The role of internal drainage board, who undertake works under the permissive powers conferred by the 1991 Land Drainage Act and, in some cases, older private legislation, is to provide a more local flood defence and water level management service. Using their local knowledge the Board designates those watercourses that they consider most important for the arterial drainage of their District and on which they will normally carry out any maintenance required, subject to resources.
The links below open PDF documents published by the Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA) which aim to raise public awareness of the role IDBs and the wide range of functions provided by IDBs.
- An Introduction to Internal Drainage Boards (Adobe PDF – 548KB)
- A Vision for Internal Drainage Boards in England and Wales (Adobe PDF – 1024KB)
More information about Internal Drainage Boards and the Association of Drainage Authorities.
9. When are my drainage rates due for payment?
Legally, they are due for payment immediately ie by return of post.
10. Why then is the date of 31st October mentioned?
For rates, the last possible date on which they can be received at this office, is 31st October. This is not the due date for payment.
11. What methods of payment are there?
At present, we accept cheque, bank transfer, bank giro. Payment by other means may be introduced shortly. Cheques are to be made payable to River Lugg Internal Drainage Board
12. I am likely to have a problem in paying my rates. By when do I need to advise you of this?
If this is the case, you must advise us as soon as possible and by 15th October at the latest in the relevant year.
13. Why have I been charged a penalty? I posted my rate cheque/paid my rates at the bank before 31st October.
Your rate monies must be received by us not later than 31st October to avoid the penalty. Dates of posting or bank payment are not relevant.
14. How can you justify such a large penalty? I was only a few days late in paying.
The penalty date is not the due date for payment. See questions 9,10 and 13 above. The amount of the penalty is fixed by statute.
15. I have a query on my rate demand. By when do I need to raise it to be able to have this year’s demand adjusted?
As soon as possible but no later than 30th September in the relevant year.
16. I sold my land some months ago, why are you charging me a full year’s rates?
Section 49 of the Land Drainage Act 1991 provides that anyone in occupation of land for any part of a year can be required to pay rates for the whole of that year. However, they then have the right to recover a proportionate part of the rates paid from anyone else who has occupied the land during that year. By ‘year’ we mean the financial year, running from 1st April to 31st March. Your solicitor should have attended to this as part of the sale transaction.
17. I only bought my land/became tenant of this land a few months ago, why are you charging me a full year’s rates?
See question 16 above.
18. I have sold/given up my land. What evidence of this will you need to alter your records?
We will need either a formal letter from a suitably qualified professional eg solicitor or surveyor or evidence of the transaction itself e.g. sight of Land Certificate or Lease.