Government advisors echo landscape experts and criticise Government action on SuDS

The Committee on Climate Change has echoed what landscape and green space professionals have been saying for years - that SuDS are essential.

Urban drainage: landscape elements designed to help water flow into permeable ground - image: TCPA
Urban drainage: landscape elements designed to help water flow into permeable ground - image: TCPA

Members say an extra £500 million is needed to stop flooding getting worse and express frustration over the debate about the Somerset Levels – saying that SuDS need to be adopted across the country - and soon.

In an interview with the BBC, the committee's specialist on adapting to climate change, Daniel Johns, said that despite scientists predicting more extreme weather, people are still paving over gardens, building on flood plains and green spaces in urban areas are threatened.

In addition legislation requiring all local authorities to establish SuDS Approval Bodies or SABs to ensure future development includes sustainable drainage has been postponed.

The Flood and Water Management Act requires all local planning authorities to establish SuDS Approval Bodies or SABs, to ensure future development includes sustainable drainage. This was expected to happen by April but has been put back, depsite the work already done by local authorities.

Johns called for a widespread adoption of SuDS and said if £500m was not spent within four years "we can expect avoidable flooding to take place in future years, causing as much as perhaps £3bn in damages."

The Housebuilders’ Federation said that the lack of movement on the adoption of SABs was "hugely concerning" and said members were disappointed over the delay.

In a statement the federation said: "Currently very few of these SABs are actually ready or in a position to serve their purpose and without approval house builders will be prevented from starting work on new housing sites and providing much needed new housing.

"House builders – and local authorities - have thus suggested a delay in implementing the new long term maintenance (adoption) arrangements to give councils time to fully assume their responsibilities and ensure that a lack of local authority resource does not prevent work on new house building sites getting underway.

"In the meantime house builders will continue to install the specified systems and push Government and local authorities to establish the adoption process required by legislation as quickly as possible."

The Landscape Institue (LI) has been vocal in its support for SuDS with president Sue Illman bringing the issue to the fore at every opportunity. Last month, in response to floods across the country she called for "an end to paralysis on floods and water."

She added: "We have the means to better protect ourselves against flooding with the introduction of wetlands, reed beds, drainage channels and porous driveways (known as sustainable drainage systems: SuDS) - all accepted ways of helping to prevent run-off flooding.

"Until the government takes it seriously and commits some money to addressing the problem, the floods will continue, and our homes, businesses and transport systems will be severely disrupted."

The LI has produced an animation, posted on YouTube last year, which neatly explains water sensitive urban design.

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