Local authorities condemn Government over SuDS commitment

Local authorities are concerned over the Government's long-term commitment to implementing the compulsory use of Sustainable Drainage Schemes (SuDS) in England and Wales, according to a survey.

Of the respondents, 68% believed the Government was either “not entirely committed,” or “not committed at all” to long-term implementation.

The survey Called SuDS: The State of the Nation, conducted by sustainable drainage specialists Hydro International, was commissioned for the Engineering Nature’s Way knowledge-sharing SuDS website.

The 149 local authority officers who participated in the survey represented a range of Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) across England and Wales who will operate SuDS Approving Bodies (SABs) as well as some district councils who may be given delegated functions.

SABS were due to begin work assessing SuDS schemes on new developments from October 2012 but commencement of the role under the Flood and Water Management Act has been delayed until at least April 2014

The survey revealed that 60% of officers believed they were not yet sufficiently prepared to take on the new SAB roles and 75% felt they needed further training.

In addition, only 26% believe they have access to sufficient funds to the new approval role which relates only to new development.

Hydro International’s UK Stormwater division director and British Water SuDS Focus Group chair Alex Stephenson said he was surprised by the high response to the survey and how keen local authorities were to express their concerns.

The majority of respondents also took time to make additional comments, on the understanding that their identities remained confidential.

Stephenson explained that the Government is undertaking further work on new National Standards and technical guidance for SuDs on which the SABs will approve new schemes.

“It is thought that a lobby by housebuilders and developers concerned about costs and practicality may have influenced the delay,” he said.

“For me, a key conclusion to draw is the need for a full understanding that SuDs solutions do not have to be land-hungry natural features. Using a mix of engineered and natural features can help deliver commercially-viable development whilst still creating a better environment.”

The survey, carried out during November and December 2012, was conducted in association with CIWEM (Chartered Institute of Water and Environment Management), SBWWI (Society of Water and Wastewater Industries) and British Water.

Conor McGlone

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