Sustainable drainage schemes to be mandatory for new development

Ministers have signalled that within two years sustainable drainage sytems (SUDS) will be required for all new development.

Ministers have signalled that within two years sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) will be required for all new development.

Under this new requirement, a key plank in the Government’s strategy for mitigating the impact of climate change and reducing the risk and impact of flooding, the Government will publish in 2011 new national standards for the construction and operation of surface water drainage for new developments and re-developments.

Developers will have to demonstrate they have met the national standards before they can connect any residual surface water drainage to a public sewer.

These standards will become a material consideration in local authority planning decisions.  The Government has promised that the standards will be developed so that “flood mitigation, improvement of water quality and protection of the environment should be balanced with the need for certainty and clarity about future requirements, in a cost-effective and workable manner”.

Under these plans SUDS will be adopted and maintained by local authorities in England and Wales.

These proposals are a feature of the Government’s Draft Flooding and Water Management Bill just published and now out for consultation.

Much of the draft legislation is in response to Sir Michael Pitt’s review of the floods in summer 2007.  The draft Bill confirmed the Environment Agency’s new strategic overview role in respect of flooding, a status which means that it will be a statutory consultee on planning applications that have any flood implications.  In the future this may be extended to include all applications with coastal erosion implications.

Whitehall has suggested that as a result of local authorities undertaking a specified local flood risk management role - including the preparation of both strategic flood risk assessments and surface water management plans - local flood risk could be reduced by 40 per cent over the next 43 years.

The draft also considers whether local authorities should have more power to restrict the paving over of gardens.  It also recommended that local authorities should be able to establish so-called Run-Off Reduction Zones where they can introduce restrictions on land management practices for particular sections of farmland.

Environment secretary Hilary Benn said the draft Bill would improve public protection “by clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in flood risk management.  The Bill is about changing the law where we need to”.