Sustainable Drainage Systems and The Flood & Water Bill
Government plans to enforce widespread application of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) across England and Wales through the introduction of new rational standards.
However, misunderstandings about the nature of sustainable drainage systems, combined with insufficient funding for local authorities to implement the proposals effectively, may pose significant barriers to achieving widespread adoption.
Under the proposed Flood and Water Management Bill developers will no longer have an automatic right to connect to public sewers. Instead they will need to seek approval for sustainable drainage systems from new SUDS approving bodies to be set up within local authorities.
The new national standards will provide the basis for approval, adoption and connection to the public sewer and the SUDS approving body will be required to adopt and maintain the majority of surface water drainage systems within the public realm. The Government is also proposing that developers are required, in some cases, to deposit a financial bond with the SUDS approving body, pending satisfactory completion of a SUDS project.
Looking at the bill, there's a real concern that the Government may be looking through rose tinted spectacles in its definition of what SUDS means. To achieve proper adoption will mean tackling deeply embedded misperceptions about the nature of SUDS being closely associated only with 'natural' or soft solutions such as swales, ponds or wetlands. Otherwise many projects will be stopped in their tracks as being unworkable before they even begin.
It will be vital for industry to work closely with the Government to ensure sensible provisions within the new national standards that enable both soft and hard engineered storage and treatment technologies to be used as appropriate to deal with polluted stormwater runoff and to slow flood waters down before they enter the sewers.
Giving local authorities new powers to assess and manage local flood risk is the right way forward and they are keen to embrace the opportunity for stronger leadership. But there has been widespread concern that the move will be ineffective unless the Government provides adequate funding to establish local authority flood engineers.
Building the adequate technical knowledge and engineering expertise will take time, recruitment, practical guidance - and a significant amount of education about the nature of SUDS. This is necessary both within the Environment Agency in its strategic guidance role and within the new SUDS Approving Boards. It's critical that work starts now to prepare for these changes, rather than waiting for the bill to become law.
Further information on Sustainable Drainage Systems is available from SDS Ltd., telephone 01934 751303, email: email@example.com
- New SUDS Act Published
- Sustainable Drainage Systems and The Flood & Water Bill
- The Building Regulations 2000 - Drainage and Waste Disposal, Approved Document H (2002 Edition)
- Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25): Development and Flood Risk
- Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) : Housing
- The Code for Sustainable Homes and associated documents
- Details of The Water Framework Directive