Water Bill must protect farmers and landowners from legal action

04 December 2013

CLA wants Water Bill to protect farmers and landowners from legal action

Farmers and landowners along main river banks could find themselves being sued whenever a neighbouring property floods unless there are changes to the Government’s Water Bill says CLA Midlands.

The Association says that the Bill as currently drafted could leave owners exposed to claims for damage and nuisance through no fault of their own.

CLA Midlands Rural Adviser Donna Tavernor said: “This is an unintended and unfair consequence of the Bill and the Government must take the opportunity to put it right.

“The Environment Agency is dealing with reduced budgets by withdrawing from long-standing flood defence commitments, effectively passing on the cost and responsibility to farmers and landowners, who could then face legal claims from the owners of adjoining properties in the event of flooding.”

The CLA is also concerned that home-owners in areas where flood defences are being withdrawn may have their properties classified as at “serious risk of flooding,” which would adversely affect their insurance and property value.

Miss Tavernor added: “We don’t believe that that Government foresaw this development of common law which disproportionately affects farmers and landowners whose land happens to lie along the course of a river.”

The CLA is calling on the Government to include a new clause in the Bill to limit the liability in private nuisance for a riparian owner when the Environment Agency or relevant authority withdraws from maintaining flood defences.