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The Rivers Authorities and Land Drainage Bill 2017–19 is a private member’s bill introduced in the House of Commons by David Warburton (Conservative MP for Somerton and Frome). The bill seeks to establish new bodies known as river authorities. These would coordinate flood risk management in particular areas. Under the bill, local councils and other bodies with responsibilities concerning flood risk prevention would be able to apply to the Secretary of State to request for a new rivers authority to be established. The Secretary of State would have the power to then lay an affirmative statutory instrument for its creation. The provisions of the bill concerning river authorities apply to England only.

The bill also seeks to make it easier to establish new internal drainage boards or expand those internal drainage boards which already exist. These bodies currently operate in 112 areas in England, established under the Land Drainage Act 1991, and are responsible for maintaining water courses, reducing flood risk and managing water levels. However, the methodology, required under the 1991 Act, for establishing how new or expanded internal drainage boards receive funding is considered to be out of date. The bill seeks to enable more up-to-date data to be used in these calculations. The internal drainage boards apply to England and Wales only.

The bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 5 March 2018. It had its second reading on 8 February 2019, and completed its Commons stages, with government support, on 15 March 2019. It was introduced in the House of Lords on 18 March 2018 and is sponsored in by Lord Bethell (Conservative). It is due to have its second reading on 16 May 2019. The explanatory notes to the bill have been provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with the consent of Lord Bethell.


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