Sustainable drainage policies must target flood risks

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The government must implement sustainable drainage policies more comprehensively, says the Environment Food, and Rural Affairs Committee

There must be more focus on sustainable drainage policies, says a new report. The Environment Food, and Rural Affairs Committee highlighted weaknesses in the implementation of the Flood and Water Management Act (2010) and concluded the government has not done enough to ensure new developments do not increase the likelihood of flooding. The ‘Post-legislative scrutiny: Flood and Water Management Act 2010’ scrutinised the effectiveness of many key provisions in previous reports.

Building developments can drastically change how rainwater interacts with land. If SuDS (sustainable urban drainage systems) are not used rainwater can ‘run off’ the ground too quickly and overwhelm sewers, causing flooding. According to the committee, it is currently too easy to seek exemption from the guidelines.

The report supports previous findings

The Environment Food, and Rural Affairs Committee has previously raised issues with the government’s implementation of flood protection policy. Now, the committee says the government has failed to seize the opportunity to act on its report ‘Future Flood Prevention’, which was published in November 2016.

Environment Food, and Rural Affairs Committee Chair, Neil Parish MP said: “Plans to deliver some one million new homes by 2020 must be achieved without increasing flooding. Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) are an essential part of the solution as they provide a cost-effective, green method of removing surface water from built-up areas.

“The Government purports to support SuDS but has not commenced provisions to set up a robust policy framework to promote their use. Instead it has adopted sub-standard planning policies which have led to far too few schemes, many of which are of low quality, being installed in new developments.

“Significant improvements in the numbers and quality of SuDS schemes installed must be delivered by the end of 2018. We urge our successor Committee to consider calling for the full commencement of SuDS provisions in the 2010 Act if this is not achieved.”

Pushing SuDS to the top of the agenda

This is not the first time SuDS has been at the forefront of discussion. In February, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) called for more to be done to encourage SuDS and green infrastructure.

‘A Place for SuDS’ was published jointly with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) to coincide with a review of the government’s own SuDS policy. It warned the planning system was not set up to encourage adoption of SuDS and said the benefits were not being highlighted.

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