Greater effort must be put into delivering SuDS and green infrastructure

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More needs to be done to ensure SuDS and green infrastructure are taken into account on all developments

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) has called for more to be done to encourage SuDS (sustainable urban drainage systems) and green infrastructure. The organisation alongside the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) published its report ‘A Place for SuDS’ to coincide with a review of the government’s own SuDS policy.

The SuDS report suggested that well-designed schemes cost less than conventional drainage. Additionally they do not cause delays to the completion of developments—one of the reasons cited for not implementing SuDS.

The report warned the cost and benefits of SuDS are not being assessed. Furthermore, the planning system does not encourage the adoption of it.

More must be done

Shadow Minister for housing Roberta Blackman-Woods said: “I’ve done six planning Bills since 2010 and in every one of these Bills we’ve talked about SuDS.

“It’s absolutely right that we deliver more housing but one in every six homes is at risk of flooding and I think it’s incumbent on us to do more.

“I think watering down the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 was a regressive step. This report shows that SuDS can be installed and maintained with relative ease at a low cost and that they don’t cause delays.

“We shouldn’t be building anything that hasn’t’ got a SuDS scheme in it. The report does a good job of busting some myths. If they prevent flooding down the line they are cost effective. The costs of dealing with flooding are absolutely huge.”

SuDS survey

The report was created using the results of the Big SuDS Survey last year. With almost 540 responses the CIWEM believes it is the largest independent survey on SuDS in the UK today.

The results revealed that some 70 per cent of respondents do not think currently planning policy encourages SuDS sufficiently, while only eight percent think current standards are driving high quality SuDS

It also found the costs and benefits of utilising SuDS is not being assessed by 75 per cent of respondents.

Furthermore, 75 per cent said they thought planning authorities did not have the right expertise to consider the merit of proposals and opt-out applications.

Why SuDS are not implemented

Time constraints were the main reason for opting out of putting in SuDS, while the question of who has responsibility for maintenance is thought to be the greatest barrier to widespread implementation.

Report co-author and CIWEM policy adviser Laura Grant said: “There is no requirement for local authorities to report on SuDS uptake, nor monitor whether they are actually implemented or effective.

“Our findings indicate that the main barriers are not from cost or practicality but from policy and institutional barriers.”

Senior Friends of the Earth campaigner Paul de Zylva also commented, stating: “Planning reform is a disaster and will prove to be a disaster.

“The planning reforms are quite blatantly about fast tracking developments of indeterminate quality. It’s a failure of Government because Government needs to think long-term not short-term.”

Future Flood Prevention report

SuDS remains an issue that has been at the forefront of discussions. Last year a report from the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s (EFRA) highlighted the role that SuDS systems can play as part of catchment management in preventing flooding. It heavily criticised current implementation and the lack of understanding amongst key stakeholders of the role that SuDS can play.

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