Flooding Affects Value – Protect Your Assets

6th March 2013

Weather features highly in the daily discussions of farmers and those that were flooded last year have asked what they can do about it. Land and property that floods is worth less money, so how do you protect the value of your asset?

The Environment Agency have recently announced that £294 million is to be invested in flood defence projects this year; however, the spending on maintenance is going to be reduced and hence unlikely to address the issues faced in rural areas.

Land and property owners need to protect the value of their assets and ensure that if you buy it on Monday you can be confident that on Friday it will be in a similar condition, retaining function and value for the future. The main causes of flooding are extreme weather events, poor maintenance and development giving rise to rapid runoff. We are not blessed with the powers to dictate the weather but maintenance and development are controllable, and we should be considering resistance and resilience measures to keep the water out.

Many farmers have been hard at work clearing out ditches but have still seen water lapping at their feet, mainly due to a lack of maintenance in their water catchment area over the years. The law on land drainage falls principally under the Land Drainage Act 1991 which sets out the responsibilities for drainage and water management and the remedies for action when they are not complied with.

You need to understand the legislation surrounding what action can be taken when looking to resolve problems in your area. The legal framework is in place to help you and as an example under the LDA 1991 the Agricultural Land Tribunal can make orders requiring owners to carry out remedial work to their land and authorising applications to carry out works on land belonging to others if required.

In today’s world of budget cuts it is unlikely that a governmental fairy godmother is going to come forward to save the day, and hence now is the time to collaborate to look at solutions for better maintenance and possibly hard engineering to create flood defences or flood retention areas.

Be careful not to undervalue your land if it is required as part of a proposed flood defence or flood retention scheme and take advice. Consider what the true value of your land is if it is being used to save property downstream which would otherwise have issues with insurability, mortgaging and ultimately a massive reduction in value if flooded.

A word of warning; when considering measures to protect your land and property be aware of where the liability lies for flooding as you could be committing a “nuisance”. For example if a landowner deliberately drains his land on to his neighbour’s land or artificially landscapes his land in such a way as to cause water to drain on to his neighbours land causing flooding then he is likely to be liable for the “nuisance” created.

We are holding seminars across Yorkshire in April to discuss flooding and protecting your assets; if you would like further information please get in touch.

Anna Fell – Chartered Surveyor for George F White specialises in valuing water as an asset and liability, please contact her if you would like more information.

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