William Eichler 27 April 2017

Whitehall’s approach to sustainable drainage ‘sub-standand’, MPs warn

MPs have criticised the Government’s ‘sub-standard’ approach to sustainable drainage (SuDs) for failing to protect communities from flood risk.

The environment, food, and rural affairs committee’s analysis of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 condemns the resulting weak SuDS policies, warning they put areas at risk and ‘miss opportunities’ to enhance the amenity and environment of local communities.

According to the committee, SuDs provide a cost-effective, green method of removing surface water from built-up areas.

However, they found the Government had not commenced provisions to set up a ‘robust policy framework’ to promote their use and has instead adopted sub-standard planning policies which have led to far too few schemes being installed in new developments.

Many of the SuDs schemes that have been put in place are of ‘low quality’, the committee found.

‘Significant improvements in the numbers and quality of SuDS schemes installed must be delivered by the end of 2018,’ said committee chair Neil Parish.

‘We urge our successor Committee to consider calling for the full commencement of SuDS provisions in the 2010 Act if this is not achieved.’

Mr Parish urged the Government to strengthen planning rules to ensure all new developments are required to install high-quality sustainable drainage systems.

He also said guidance must be tightened to reduce the potential for developers to opt-out from installing schemes on cost or site-practicality grounds.

In addition, Mr Parish said, standards for SuDS construction must be made statutory to provide a stronger basis for enforcement and make it easier for Water and Sewerage Companies to adopt SuDS.

He concluded by calling for an ending of the automatic right of new developments to connect surface water discharges to conventional sewerage systems in order to spur developers to use sustainable alternatives.

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