Property developers, investors and insurers in particular were invited to comment on DEFRA proposals to update SuDS, the Sustainable Drainage Systems.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) opened a consultation on their proposals to make Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), formerly known as Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, compulsory for new development sites in England. The Welsh Government is holding a separate consultation on the DEFRA proposals, whilst in Scotland and Northern Ireland the current systems are to remain unchanged.
SuDS are used to reduce the amount of surface flooding and pollution caused by built developments. This is achieved by managing the amount of surface water runoff entering the sewer system. In addition, SuDS can potentially improve local amenities and increase the biodiversity of the area.
DEFRA welcomed views on the impact assessment, national standards and statutory instruments including proposals for the approval and adoption of SuDS. They are also proposing to develop guidance with which to support the National Standards in collaboration with interested parties. It is anticipated that these proposals will be of interest to developers, investors and insurers.
The Flood and Water Management Act 2010, Schedule 3, details what is required by SuDS and how these are to be implemented. The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 requires development projects (that have drainage implications) to have management systems in place to address surface runoff. These management systems need to be approved prior to starting construction works (i.e. the creation of buildings or structures that cover land and that will affect the ability of the land to absorb rainwater). If full compliance with the standards were to cause the drainage system to become more expensive than an equivalent conventional design, then full compliance is not required and the drainage system must comply with the standards to the greatest possible extent without exceeding the cost of an equivalent design.
A SuDS Approving Body (SAB) will be set up to ensure that the SuDS have been designed in accordance with the national standards required by DEFRA as well as ensuring that the SuDS continue to accommodate those national standards. The proposals by DEFRA will also amend existing legislation, such as the Water Industry Act 1991, so that the connection of drainage systems to the municipal sewers will be conditional and wholly dependant upon approval being received from the SAB.
The consultation period ended on 13th March 2012 and it is currently anticipated that the changes are to be introduced in October 2012. DEFRA will also be developing guidance to support the national standards. More information is available on the DEFRA website found here, or alternatively, please contact Jo Steele on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0115 965 6700.