A new report by the Landscape Institute and Construction Industry Council shows that the delivery of sustainable drainage in England is currently a long way behind the ambition

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) are an important way of managing surface water runoff inbuilt developments.

SuDS were first introduced to the English planning system in 2010. National planning policy encourages SuDS in all major developments unless there is clear evidence that this would be inappropriate, while as of January 2019, SuDS are mandatory in Wales for all new developments over 100m2.

A new report by the Landscape Institute and Construction Industry Council (CIC) highlights the huge step change still needed in this area.

The most sustainable form of SuDS are those that are designed to manage or use water close to where it falls, on the surface, and by incorporating vegetation. These are considered to be most able to deliver the widest range of multi-functional benefits.

As of 2017, 25% of local authorities had no formal SuDS policies in place, nor any immediate plans to implement any. This is putting communities under threat of surface water flooding as climate change continues to put pressure on our landscapes.

Sue Illman, CIC Champion for Flood Mitigation and Resilience, former President of the Landscape Institute and co-author of the report comments: “The problems for LLFAs in delivering good quality SuDS are clear.

“At a time when climate change and sustainability are such prevalent issues, the shortcomings and inconsistencies highlighted in this report are of real concern.

“But the review also shows how relatively small changes in government guidance could provide better outcomes for communities and the environment.”

The LI and CIC’s new report surveyed Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) – who are responsible for flood strategy, including SuDS – across the country. The research shows that delivery is currently a long way behind the ambition. Only 3% of authorities reported receiving adequate information to appropriately assess a planning application for SuDS. As for local authorities, most are gearing up for more SuDS.

Illman adds: “SuDS can do far more than just manage surface water, when designed and implemented properly, SuDS schemes manage the quantity and quality of water, improve biodiversity, and help create attractive and healthy places.”

Read the full report here.

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