Who are we?
Drainage boards carry out work in low lying areas, without this work large areas of the UK would turn back to their natural state such as marsh, river flood plain and intertidal mudflat. Over time, this lack of maintenance would make such areas unsustainable; displacing homes, businesses, infrastructure and other local services such as schools and other community facilities resulting in a heavy impact on local people and on the local economy.
Our operations ensure that 20% of the East Riding of Yorkshire is drained, an area that includes the main routes from the west. Our district is in the Humber Estuary, River Derwent and River Foulness flood plains. Our work reduces flood risk to thousands of residents, businesses and agribusinesses.
The Board maintains many miles of watercourses, rivers and associated infrastructure such as pumping stations and other structures. The Board funds maintenance of main rivers through a precept (a payment we must make by law). We work with partners including the Environment Agency and Highways England; we undertake maintenance on miles of main river within our district along with the Humber Tidal defences between Melton and the North Yorkshire Boundary.
Some of our infrastructure was constructed in the 1970’s to accommodate the M62 Motorway, our continued maintenance of these systems is essential to ensure the main road connection between Hull and West Yorkshire remains operable.
How are we Funded?
Our base funding is from a rate (local tax on land and property). Every year the rate is calculated by applying a percentage to the total annual value (equivalent annual rental value) of all property and land in our district to reach an amount that matches our spending requirements. Most years, adjustments are made to account for new development that has been agreed by the Council (Planning Authority) but can also be due to changes in the way central government assesses business rates.
Agricultural Drainage Rates
Part of the rate is charged to owners of agricultural land which can range from small paddocks through to large fields, this is known as the Agricultural Land Drainage Rate. This is collected directly by the Board as there is no other suitable local tax mechanism for agricultural land and farms.
Domestic Drainage Rates
Part of the rate is charged to owners of land used for domestic and business purposes, the Board is a charging authority and like the council, police, fire service and parish councils can ask the Council Tax Authority (in our case the East Riding of Yorkshire Council) to collect funds on the Board’s behalf.
Unlike some other larger authorities, because the amount the Board charges is relatively small we collect this as an average amount through a demand mechanism called a special levy. Although historically councils received up to 86% of this money back from central government this amount has reduced in real terms since changes made by government in 2013.
The Domestic Drainage Rate works out at £1.88 per East Riding resident, per year (2018/19).
How are we Investing for the Future?
We are developing a £10m future investment plan to refurbish our pumping stations and flood risk infrastructure. This is in response to aging equipment and the need to adapt to climate change, especially sea level rise. To pay for this we ask central government for funding, we also have to save up every year to ensure we have enough money to replace things like new pumps in the future, these savings are called ‘reserves’. If we do not build up reserves for future investment we cannot guarantee that we can keep our apparatus operable which puts out communities and other essential local services at risk.
The Board has invested in new mechanical equipment to ensure that we can undertake our operations as quickly and efficiently as possible using our limited staff resource.
We have made a significant investment in technology including mapping and asset management systems such as satellite tracking of our operations. This investment helps us better understand the 132 square miles of land that we help to drain.
Facts and Figures
Located at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Derwent within East Riding of Yorkshire, OHDB is an amalgamation of the former Lower Ouse Drainage Board and the Market Weighton Drainage Board. Its district covers 34,422 hectares (132 square miles), although the wider catchment that benefits from the Board’s operations is assessed as 47,959 hectares (185 square miles)
The Board maintains 418km (260 miles) of watercourses, including the River Foulness, 19 pumping stations and 32 outfall structures. The Board also maintains approximately 24km (15 miles) of main river.
Although the district was originally drained for agricultural and trade purposes, the population has grown and is now in the order of 20,000 people. The main settlement is the historic town of Howden and there are a number of more modern villages including Bubwith, Gilberdyke, Holme on Spalding Moor and Newport, along with numerous smaller settlements.
The staff of the Ouse and Humber drainage Board manage 4 other Internal Drainage Boards, undertake work on behalf of the Environment Agency and offer engineering support to a number of other public sector partners.
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