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Report highlights change needed in SuDS delivery

A new report shows that the delivery of sustainable drainage in England is currently a long way behind the ambition.

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) are a way of managing surface water runoff in built developments.

Partly or wholly natural in design, SuDS were first introduced to the English planning system in 2010. National planning policy encourages SuDS in all major developments. As of January 2019, SuDS are mandatory in Wales for all new developments over 100m2.

A new report by the Landscape Institute and Construction Industry Council shows the huge step change still needed in this area.

96% of local authorities report that the quality of planning submissions for SuDS are either ‘inadequate’ or ‘mixed’.

As of 2017, 25% of local authorities had no formal SuDS policies in place, nor any immediate plans to put in place any. This is putting communities under threat of surface water flooding.

Sue Illman, CIC Champion for Flood Mitigation and Resilience, said:

“the review shows how small changes in government guidance could provide better results. Both for the community and the environment.”

The LI and CIC’s new report surveyed Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) across the country. The research aimed to test the current system, and how policy is (or isn’t) leading to successful SuDS schemes on the ground.

The research shows that delivery is currently a long way behind the ambition. Only 3% of authorities reported receiving good information to assess a planning application for SuDS. As for local authorities themselves, most are gearing up for more SuDS, but coverage is uneven.

Sue Illman said: “SuDS can do far more than manage surface water. SuDS schemes manage the quantity and quality of water and improve biodiversity.

“We all need to work together to ensure we are doing the best to safeguard our local environments.”

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