Drainage Boards have powers under the Land Drainage Act 1991 (as amended by the 1994 Act) to undertake works on any watercourse within their district other than “Main River.” A Board’s District is defined on a sealed map prepared by the Environment Agency and approved by the relevant Ministry.  In addition Boards can undertake works on watercourses outside their drainage district in order to benefit the district.

Within the Drainage Districts, Boards have designated arterial watercourses to which they will normally apply their statutory powers.

Additionally Boards may make byelaws for securing the efficient working of the drainage systems.  All byelaws must be approved by the relevant Minister.  Any breach of a byelaw is a criminal offence and, where a contravention occurs, the Boards can take necessary action to remedy the breach and recover their reasonable expenses.

The Land Drainage Acts (1991 and 1994)

The Land Drainage Acts set out the principle powers and duties of Internal Drainage Boards and Local Authorities.  Drainage Boards are constituted within areas of the Environment Agency’s Regional  Flood Defence Committees that will derive benefit, or avoid danger, as a result of drainage operations.

The Internal Drainage Boards shall:

  • exercise a general supervision over all matters relating to the drainage of land within their districts, and
  • have such other powers and perform such other duties as are conferred or imposed by the Acts

The powers provide for Internal Drainage Boards to:

  • improve and maintain the drainage system,
  • regulate activities in and alongside the drainage system, other than on those waterways designed as Main River which are under the control of the Environment Agency.

In utilisation of these powers the Boards have duties with respect to the environment and recreation.