Flood Risk Management

Sustainable Drainage (SuDS)

Surface water drainage methods that take account of water quantity, water quality and amenity issues are collectively referred to as Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS). SuDS are a sequence of management practices, control structures and strategies designed to efficiently and sustainably drain surface water, while minimising pollution and managing the impact on water quality of local water bodies. These systems are more sustainable than conventional drainage methods because they:

  • Manage runoff volumes and flowrates, reducing the impact of urbanisation on flooding
  • Protect or enhance water quality
  • Are sympathetic to the environmental setting and the needs of the local community
  • Provide a habitat for wildlife in urban watercourses
  • Encourage natural groundwater recharge (where appropriate).

The Flood and Water Management Act establishes a SuDS Approving Body (the “SAB”) at county or unitary local authority levels. The SAB would have responsibility for the approval of proposed drainage systems in new developments and redevelopments, subject to exemptions and thresholds. Approval must be given before the developer can commence construction.

In order to be approved, the proposed drainage system would have to meet new national standards for sustainable drainage. Where planning permission is required applications for drainage approval and planning permission can be lodged jointly with the planning authority but the Approving Body will determine the drainage application. Regulations will set a timeframe for the decision so as not to hold up the planning process.

The SuDS Approving Body (SAB) would also be responsible for adopting and maintaining SuDS which serve more than one property, where they have been approved. Highways authorities will be responsible for maintain SuDS in public roads, to National Standards.

The SAB must arrange for SuDS on private property, whether they are adopted or not, to be designated under Schedule 1 to the Act as features that affect flood risk. The SAB will also be required to arrange for all approved SuDS to be included on the register of structures and features (as a separate category).

The National Standards will set out the criteria by which the form of drainage appropriate to any particular site or development can be determined, as well as requirements for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of SuDS. Local authorities are represented on the Project Advisory Board for the development of these National Standards.

The Act, in response to Sir Michael Pitt’s Review, also makes the right to connect surface water drainage from new development to the public sewerage system conditional on the surface water drainage system being approved by the Approving Body.

Devon County Council are currently working on the local standards and the devlopment of the SAB process and more information will be provided when this work is complete.