The UK government has announced that it will mandate sustainable drainage in new developments in England as part of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010’s Schedule 3.
The change has come from increased flooding due to climate change, urban development, and the strain on existing drainage systems
Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) can help developers and homebuilders divert and control surface water in an environmentally-friendly way.
What are SuDs?
Sustainable drainage systems, often shortened to SuDS, is a term for a set of eco-friendly techniques designed to help manage and control surface water runoff.
The aim of SuDS is to mimic the natural water management process by allowing water to drain into the ground, evaporate away, or be stored again for later use, rather than immediately diverted into traditional drainage systems.
SuDS can help to clean-up polluted water running from roads, and recharge depleted ground water supplies as well as providing effective surface water drainage. You can read more on 'what are SuDS' in our guide.
Why are SuDS becoming a legal requirement?
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The UK government says developments can inadvertently add to surface and sewer flood risk by covering permeable surfaces like grassland and soil that would otherwise assist in dealing with heavy rainfall.
The new approach to drainage will ensure sustainable drainage systems are designed to reduce the impact of rainfall on new developments by using features such as soakaways, grassed areas, permeable surfaces, French drains (see our piece on what is a french drain) and wetlands.
This reduces the overall amount of water that ends up in the sewers and storm overflow discharges. Certain features such as tanks and the best water butts also allow for water reuse and reduce pressures on water resources.
Rebecca Pow, the former Environment Minister said: “Our traditional drainage systems are under increasing pressure from the effects of climate change, urbanisation and a growing population.
“The benefits of sustainable drainage systems are many – from mitigating flood risk by catching and storing surplus water and reducing storm overflow discharges, to enhancing local nature in the heart of our developments and helping with harvesting valuable rain water.
“Taking a more consistent and effective approach to sustainable drainage systems will improve the resilience of our drainage and sewer infrastructure, while reaping these broader benefits.”
What changes will homeowners need to make?
Planning experts at law firm Clyde & Co say there are six main takeaways from the Flood and Water Management Act 2010:
- SuDS will have to be incorporated into new developments in England. New developments include any kind of building work in your home or any material change to the building or land.
- Applications for the approval of SuDS on new developments that meet the criteria will have to be made to a SuDS Approving Body, or “SAB”, which will sit within the Council.
- SAB approval will be separate from the Local Planning approval.
- SAB approval could be subject to conditions and may require a non-performance bond.
- Construction works covering an area of under 100 sqm or single properties will be exempt.
- Applications for approval could be made to the SAB directly or through the Council combined with the planning application. A fee will be payable and there will be rights of appeal against refusal.
It may be important, therefore, to take SuDS into account when seeking planning permission. It's also worth knowing that if you do install SuDs or already have SuDS on your property, you may be eligible to claim a surface water drainage rebate
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Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world. As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.