Robert Ashcroft
22 March 2016

Experts call on Lords to seize opportunity to improve flood resilience

Implementing SUDs through the Housing and Planning Bill is an opportunity too good for the Government to miss

Six professional bodies, including the IES, representing 150,000 professionals including environmental experts, have called on Lords to support sustainable drainage in the Housing and Planning Bill to improve the UK's resilience to flooding.

The IES has joined CIWEM, ICE, RIBA, the Landscape Institute, CIEEM and the Environmental Policy Forum in calling on the Planning Minister, Baroness Williams of Trafford, to support a cross–party amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill during the Lords Committee Stage this week. The amendment seeks to ensure that the Bill cannot be enacted unless the sustainable drainage provisions (Schedule 3) of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 are implemented. The Act mandated that new developments may not automatically connect to sewers, many of which are already at capacity, and should instead make use of sustainable drainage systems (SUDs), designed to national standards and adopted by local authorities.

SUDs help to improve resilience to flood risk, an issue with which the UK is all too familiar. All new buildings potentially contribute to flood risk and traditional existing piped sewer systems cannot readily be adapted to deal with increased rainfall, particularly in densely urban areas. Half of the national sewer network is reported to be currently at or beyond capacity and there is a pressing need for this inadequacy to be addressed.

The group believe implementing Schedule 3 would include a powerful set of provisions to drive forward the inclusion and management of sustainable drainage systems in new developments, helping to increase resilience to flooding and drought. It would also create attractive places to live (improving health and wellbeing in urban areas), whilst also making improvements to air, water and biodiversity quality, at the same or lesser cost than conventionally engineered systems.

Talking about the joint letter, Professor Wiliam Pope, a Vice-President of the IES and Chair of the Environmental Policy Forum, said:

"Implementing SUDs through the Housing and Planning Bill is an opportunity too good for the Government to miss - and this will increase flood resilience at no additional cost to the exchequer, developers or home owners. It makes sense from a scientific, engineering and environmental perspective."

Read the full letter here (pdf)