The inside view: Agricultural land and drainage tribunals

Food and Drink September 07, 2020

ADAS Technical Director Kirk Hill fills us in on his role as an independent expert witness for the Agriculture Land and Drainage Tribunal, England, and the Agricultural Land Tribunal, Wales.

Kirk Hill, Technical Director at ADAS (an RSK company), provides the independent expert witness service for the Agricultural Land and Drainage Tribunal, England, and the Agricultural Land Tribunal, Wales, for cases submitted to the tribunals under Sections 28 and 30 of the Land Drainage Act, 1991. Section 28 applications are those in which one or more parties claim that their land drainage rights have been impaired or nuisance caused as a result of the negligence of a third party. Section 30 applications involve an application for drainage works on third-party land to provide a new outfall facility for land drainage.

Over the last 12 months, Kirk has advised on six new cases, as well as ongoing ones. This involves visiting sites to interview applicants and respondents, undertaking surveys and reporting back to the tribunal. Often, disputes involve an agricultural landowner and a residential property, but other landowners can be involved. Recent cases have included utility companies, fishing clubs, religious establishments and a cider producer! In some cases, the tribunal reaches a judgement based on the expert witness report, but sometimes the case goes to a hearing. Here, Kirk provides his independent assessment alongside inputs from the interested parties and their representatives.

“Cases which reach the tribunal have always exhausted all other means of resolution and tend to be complicated and require detailed investigation and survey work,” says Kirk. “Applicants usually feel somewhat traumatised by their experiences of flooding to their land and property.”

In addition to his expert knowledge, Kirk has become used to dealing with individuals in distressed states, or those attempting to ‘guide’ his opinion. Helping to resolve disputes that have had real impacts on the lives of the people involved is important work and ADAS is proud to deliver this service to the highest standards.

“Over the last 12 months, the main reasons for new applications to the tribunal have been concerns about the flooding and/or waterlogging of land, with one recent case involving a claim of subsidence,” Kirk explains. “The interface between agricultural and developed land is a consistent aspect, but one recent case was located in an entirely urban setting, where the application was made by a householder against the owner of a concreted road, garage and storage area at the centre of a large residential area. This was more unusual.”

For more information on ADAS’s independent expert witness services for agricultural land and drainage tribunals, please contact Kirk Hill, +44 (0)7831 752874