Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Flood and Coastal Defence Division, River and Coastal Engineering Group: Internal Drainage Board Database

Details of MAF 407
Reference:MAF 407
Title:
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Flood and Coastal Defence Division, River and Coastal Engineering Group: Internal Drainage Board Database
Description:

This series consists of statistical data captured by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for every Internal Drainage Board (IDB) in England from annual returns provided by the boards. The data primarily relates to the finances of IDBs and the preparation of water level management plans for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in IDB districts.

The IDB datasets contain the following information for each IDB. Except for the preliminary information on special levies (item 9 below), all of the data relates to IDBs' activities in the previous financial year:

  • 1. The name of the IDB and the name of the relevant National Rivers Authority/Environment Agency region, in cases where the functions of an IDB had been transferred to the NRA or, from 1996 onwards, to the Environment Agency (the NRA's successor).
  • 2. Details of the IDB's drainage district (its area, the extent of the catchment area, the area of rated agricultural land, the number of sub-districts and the number of SSSIs in the district).
  • 3. Technical information about the length of the IDB's drains and culverts, the number of pumping stations, the area of the drainage district which was pump drained, the estimated amount of water pumped in the year, and the mean rainfall in the catchment area.
  • 4. Details of the IDB's personnel: the number of full-time and part-time administrative and manual staff, and the cost of consultancy services.
  • 5. Details of the IDB's income from drainage rates, from special levies on local authorities (data is given for each local authority), contributions from the NRA/Environment Agency, contributions from local authorities, 'rechargeable works' undertaken by the IDB for other bodies and persons, and from other sources.
  • 6. Details of the IDB's expenditure on 'revenue contributions towards capital expenditure' for drainage and establishment purposes, on loan repayments and charges, contributions to the NRA/Environment Agency, the maintenance of watercourses, the operating costs of pumping stations, administrative staff costs, establishment charges, 'rechargeable works' and other current expenses.
  • 7. Details of the IDB's capital expenditure (on new works and improvements, plant, office equipment and other expenditure), and the sources of finance for capital expenditure (government grants, loans, revenue contributions and other sources).
  • 8. Information about drainage rates: the total annual value of agricultural land and buildings subject to drainage rates, the number of rate assessments and the amount of rate levied.
  • 9. Preliminary information on special levies to be issued on local authorities in the current financial year, including the total amount to be levied, the proportion of the IDB's expenses which are to be raised by special levies, and the amount to be levied on each local authority.

If an IDB's drainage district was divided into sub-districts in order to levy differential drainage rates or issue differential special levies, the datasets record the following information for each sub-district:

  • 1. The sub-district's name and reference number.
  • 2. The total income from special levies in the sub-district.
  • 3. The total annual value of agricultural land and buildings subject to drainage rates.
  • 4. The number of rate assessments.
  • 5. The rate in the £ levied.
  • 6. Preliminary information on special levies to be issued in the current financial year (the amount of special levy per local authority and the proportion of the sub-district's expenses which are to be raised by special levies).

If an IDB district included one or more SSSI, the 1994/95 and 1995/96 datasets include the following data for each SSSI:

  • 1. Its name, total area, area located within the IDB district, and location (expressed as a National Grid Reference).
  • 2. Any additional protective designation affecting the site (e.g. Special Protection Area, Ramsar site, National Nature Reserve, candidate Special Area of Conservation).
  • 3. Whether water levels can be controlled in all or part of the SSSI, and if not, the reasons for this.
  • 4. Information about the status of preparation of a Water Level Management Plan and Interim Management Statement for the site: e.g. the target date for completion of the WLMP if the plan was recorded as 'in preparation' or 'required but no action taken'.

The datasets in this series are available to download. Links to individual datasets can be found at piece level.

Date: 1994-2000
Arrangement:

Hardware: Workstations linked to a ProLiant server manufactured by Compaq.

Operating System: SCO UNIX.

Application Software: DataEase version 4.2.

User interface: The IDB Database was designed to allow users to carry out four types of functions:

  • To view, add and amend details of contact persons and the bodies to which they related (IDBs, local authorities or NRA/Environment Agency regions).
  • To view, add and amend information gathered from the annual reports of IDBs.
  • To run eight 'IDB Users Reports' to summarise certain types of IDB data for a given year.
  • To run two 'Management Reports' to compare two years' worth of IDB data, or to select a procedure from a series of procedures designed to calculate the median, upper and lower quartiles for various analyses of IDB data (e.g. penny rate product per hectare of rated agricultural land).

It appears that these functions were accessed through an initial menu presenting the four options (IDB Address List Options, IDB Return Options, IDB Reports and Management Reports). These options each led to a separate sub-menu, which in turn led to screens for entering and viewing data or running reports.

Logical structure and schema: The following summarises the forms which were used in the database to hold data from IDB returns and related information:

  • AUTHORITY: The names and reference codes of IDBs, local authorities, and regions and divisions of the National Rivers Authority/Environment Agency.
  • IDBAnnexB: Data from the IDB 1 Annex B paper forms relating to sub-districts within IDB districts (one record per sub-district), except for data held in SubDistAuthfinance.
  • IDBAR: Data from the IDB 1 paper form (the main annual report form), except for data held in IDBAuthFinance and IDBAuthFinanceFuture.
  • IDBAuthFinance: Data from section V1(b) of the IDB 1 form (special levies on local authorities issued in the previous financial year). This form was displayed to users as a sub-form of IDBAR, i.e. as part of one on-screen form, and was not accessed directly by users of the database.
  • IDBAuthFinanceFuture: Data from section IX(b) of the IDB 1 form (preliminary information about special levies to be issued in the current financial year). Also displayed as a sub-form of IDBAR.
  • IDB1AnnexA: Data from the IDB 1 Annex A paper forms relating to SSSIs (one record per SSSI in each IDB district).
  • NRARegion: The names and reference codes of NRA/Environment Agency regions.
  • SSSIDetails: The names and reference codes of SSSIs.
  • SubDistAuthFinance: Data from section IX(b) of the IDB 1 Annex B form (preliminary information about special levies on local authorities in the current financial year for IDB sub-districts). Displayed as a sub-form of IDBAnnexB, i.e. as part of one on-screen form, and therefore not accessed directly by users.

The datasets derived from the IDB Database are closed, in the sense that data from the annual reports of IDBs was preserved by MAFF for each financial year and was not overwritten by new data.

How data was originally captured and validated: The annual returns of IDBs for the financial years covered by these datasets were submitted to MAFF using three standard paper forms:

  • IDB 1: the main annual report form, containing most of the information which IDBs were required to supply.
  • IDB 1 Annex A: information relating to SSSIs. An IDB 1 Annex A form was returned for each SSSI in an IDB's district (if an IDB contained no SSSIs, no form would be completed).
  • IDB 1 Annex B: information relating to sub-districts. An IDB 1 Annex B form was returned for each sub-district in an IDB's district (if an IDB was not divided into sub-districts, no form would be completed).

Except for some changes to the IDB 1 Annex A form, the design of the forms and the questions asked in them remained constant during the period 1994/95-1996/97. Blank forms appear to have been sent out to IDB clerks in May-June; the majority of forms which were returned to Branch A of FCDE appear to have been received between July and September. A manual check of the forms was carried out by Branch A before data entry, with IDBs being contacted to resolve any problems which were detected.

Validation performed after transfer: Details of the content and transformation validation checks performed by NDAD staff on the IDB datasets are recorded in the catalogues of individual datasets.

Related Material: Welsh Office: Environment Division: Welsh Coastal Survey Database is in: BD 80
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Coast Protection Survey of England is in: MAF 406
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in The National Archives CRDA/9
Legal status: Public Record
Language: English
Creator: Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Flood and Coastal Defence Division, River and Coastal Engineering Group, 1994-2001
Physical description: 4 datasets and documentation
Restriction on use: Some items of documentation are subject to restrictions. The Internal Drainage Board Database is subject to Crown Copyright; copies may be made for private study and research purposes only.
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition: In 2010 the United Kingdom National Digital Archive of Datasets
Custodial history: Originally transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, from 1998. The United Kingdom National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD) then held the datasets until 2010 when they were transferred to The National Archives (TNA).
Accruals: No further accruals are expected.
Unpublished finding aids: Extent of documentation: 48 documents, Dates of creation of documentation: 1995 - [2000]
Administrative / biographical background:

The Internal Drainage Board (IDB) Database was originally created by the Flood Defence Division of the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). It was continued by the Division's successors, Flood and Coastal Defence Division and Flood and Coastal Defence with Emergencies Division.

IDBs have been described as 'virtually autonomous co-operatives of farmers and landowners who have a strong interest in ensuring that drainage work continues'. There were 235 IDBs in England in 1996, most of them in lowland rural areas with special drainage needs (e.g. the Fens of East Anglia). During the period (1994/95-1996/97) covered by the datasets, IDBs' activities were regulated by the Land Drainage Act 1991, as amended by the Land Drainage Act 1994 and the Environment Act 1995. This authorised IDBs to maintain and improve existing drainage works in their districts and to construct new works. Some IDBs also exercised powers under Local Acts of Parliament. Their functions were limited to drainage works on watercourses not designated as 'main rivers' (flood defence on"main rivers" being the responsibility of the Environment Agency's Regional and Local Flood Defence Committees). IDBs could derive their income from drainage rates levied by them on agricultural land and buildings, special levies on local authorities, contributions from the Environment Agency, and grant-in-aid from MAFF towards drainage schemes. Members of IDBs were elected by the payers of drainage rates, and were appointed by local authorities subject to special levies.

MAFF's involvement with IDBs stemmed from its overall responsibility for policy relating to flood and coastal defence in England, and from its role in administering the legislation allowing flood and coastal defence works to be carried out. During the period 1994-1997 MAFF's functions included a general oversight of the work of local authorities, IDBs and the Environment Agency in the following areas: planning, maintaining and operating defence measures; the provision of advice and guidance to these authorities; the funding of research into flood and coastal defence; and grant-in-aid for capital projects. Following the creation of the National Assembly for Wales, co-ordination of flood and coastal defence policy in Wales became the responsibility of the Assembly (which exercised powers formerly held by the Welsh Office). In 1999, when the first IDB dataset was transferred, flood and coastal defence functions were discharged within MAFF by Flood and Coastal Defence with Emergencies Division (FCDE).

The Land Drainage Act 1991 required that IDBs submit an annual report to MAFF, as part of MAFF's supervisory role, setting out details of their activities in the previous year. During the period of the three datasets held, these reports were sent by the clerks of IDBs to Branch A of FCDE. They contained data relating to the preceding financial year (1 April-31 March), together with preliminary information on special levies which were to be issued in the current financial year. The data on IDBs' finances was used by FCDE to assess applications from IDBs to borrow money and to compare IDBs' previous forecasts of special levies with their actual levies on local authorities. Some of the data was passed to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, where it was used to determine the amounts to be allocated to local authorities to cover special levies from IDBs.

The reports from IDBs also gathered information on the preparation of water level management plans (WLMPs) for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) within IDB districts. Guidance on preparing WLMPs was first issued by MAFF in 1994, with each plan intended to be a written statement of the water level management objectives for a particular area, designed to balance and integrate the water level management requirements of a range of activities (agriculture, flood defence and conservation). MAFF's guidelines required the operating authorities responsible for water level management (IDBs, local authorities and the Environment Agency) to give priority, when preparing WLMPs, to areas designated by conservation agencies as Sites of Special Scientific Interest under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Particular priority was given to SSSIs designated as Special Protection Areas under the EC's Birds Directive, Special Areas of Conservation under the EC's Habitats Directive, or Ramsar sites under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Data from the IDB returns was used by FCDE's Environmental Adviser to monitor the progress of IDBs in preparing water level management plans for SSSIs.

In 1991 FCDE's predecessor, Flood Defence Division, began work on a database to hold data from IDB reports and information on contact persons in IDBs, local authorities and the National Rivers Authority (NRA). The NRA was the forerunner of the Environment Agency, which took over the NRA's responsibilities in 1996. Teething problems meant that the database was not fully operational until 1994/95, and no data prior to the 1994/95 financial year is believed to survive. Earlier problems which had been experienced with the address data in the database meant that the section of the database relating to contact persons was not used by Branch A of FCDE. Instead, Branch A relied on a word-processed list of contact persons and only used the database to store information from IDB returns. It also appears that the information on SSSIs gathered from the returns ceased to be entered into the database after the 1995/96 financial year, and was used instead to update a separate Water Level Management Plans Database. This was set up to allow FCDE's Environmental Advisor to track the preparation of WLMPs by IDBs and by other operating authorities, although only current information was recorded in the database.

In 1998 the IDB Database was taken out of service, with the intention that it would be merged with two other databases used by Branch B of FCDE: the 'Schemes' database, relating to grants for flood defence schemes; and the"Environment Agency Medium Term Plans" database, relating to the forecasting of expenditure on flood defence schemes. One of the reasons for the merger was to create a shared area of address information for all three databases. The new database was known as the Flood Defence Database. However, while IDB data was imported into the database, in practice this aspect of the system was not used by Branch A of FCDE (though the data derived from"Schemes" and"Environment Agency Medium Term Plans" continued to be used by Branch B). Problems with the non-return of forms from IDBs also meant that Branch A decided not to input the data from the reports for the 1997/98 and 1998/99 financial years. In order to reduce the burden of form-filling on IDBs, IDB returns were simplified, beginning with those for the 1999/2000 financial year. Branch A (renamed Policy and Administration Branch in 2001) entered the data from the 1999/2000 reports into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. This was effectively the successor to the IDB Database and consisted solely of financial data; data from SSSIs section of the reports continued to be used to update the Water Level Management Plans Database.

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