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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/internal-drainage-districts-in-southern-england/internal-drainage-districts-in-southern-england
Internal drainage boards (IDB) are public bodies that manage water levels in some areas where there is a special need for drainage. These areas are known as internal drainage districts (IDD).
The Environment Agency inherited the administration of 6 IDDs in Sussex from its predecessors. In East Sussex they were the River Ouse, the River Cuckmere and the Pevensey Levels IDDs, while in West Sussex they were the River Arun, River Adur and the South West Sussex IDDs.
Since 2012, the Environment Agency has worked with those affected in each of the IDDs to agree how to transfer its land drainage responsibilities within the IDDs to local stakeholders who would become responsible for managing the watercourses.
Formal proposals (in the form of draft schemes) were submitted to Defra in autumn 2015 and 5 of the 6 IDDs have now been abolished.
However, Defra received several objections to the proposed abolition of the River Arun IDD, which is now the only IDD for which the Environment Agency Board acts as IDB .
A local public inquiry into the Environment Agency’s proposal to abolish the River Arun IDD was held in February 2018, in Littlehampton, West Sussex. Its findings were submitted to the Secretary of State for the Environment in May 2018.
Following the Inspector’s report and recommendations, the Secretary of State decided not to abolish the River Arun IDD at that stage, and asked the Environment Agency to conduct further assessments and provide additional information.
July 2020 update
The Environment Agency completed these assessments but was unable to secure sufficient support locally for the land drainage responsibilities to be transferred. The Environment Agency has therefore withdrawn the River Arun internal drainage district abolition scheme, and the Secretary of State has decided not to make the order abolishing the IDD.
The Environment Agency will continue to work with all interested parties to secure support for a new scheme for the abolition of the River Arun IDD, which may be submitted at a future date.
In the meantime the Environment Agency will continue to act as the IDB. This means that for the time being:
- the Environment Agency will retain powers to carry out work in order to manage any flood risk from the Ordinary Watercourses (OWCs)
- the Environment Agency will continue the enforcement and consenting powers for the IDD in relation to the OWCs
If you require any further information about internal drainage districts and the future arrangements, please call the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506.