Flood risk management

January 29th, 2016 by James Goudie KC

In the test case of Robert Lindley Ltd v East Riding of Yorkshire Council (2016) UKUT 6 (LC) a farming company claimed compensation from the Council under Sections 14 and 14A of the Land Drainage Act 1991 after part of its carrot crop was destroyed when floodwater was pumped out of a nearby village.  The Council was lead local flood authority and a risk management authority.  Nonetheless, it submitted that it was not liable, because (1) flood risk management work had to be of a permanent nature and the pumping operation had been temporary and (2) the crop was damaged when the pumping was carried out by the Environment Agency (“the EA”) and the Fire Service.  Both submissions failed.  As to the first, flood risk management work is not limited to permanent work: Paragraph 93.  As to the second, the relevant risk management authorities falling within the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 were the Council (as the lead local flood authority) and the EA.  The Fire Service did not fall within the definition.  As the lead local flood authority, the Council had failed to carry out its duty under the 2010 Act to investigate who were the relevant risk management authorities and whether they were exercising flood risk management functions.  If it had carried out that duty, there might have been less confusion as to what powers were being exercised.  On proper analysis, the EA had been co-operating with and assisting the local authority.  It had provided the pumps in response to the local authority’s request. The local authority had paid for all the pump fuel, including for the period when the EA was on site in the village.  Very little supervision of the pumps had been required other than to ensure they had sufficient fuel.  On those facts, the pumps had been on loan to the local authority from the time they were delivered. The local authority had exercised its powers to carry out the work and was liable for the damage caused.

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