sharing knowledge on sustainability

Greenbelt is leading the field in the long term operation and management of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) within the UK.

SUDS are now a requirement for all new developments within Scotland, providing a means to reduce pollutants entering our watercourses and mitigating against the risk of flooding from urban expansion. SUDS use has increased considerably since their introduction in the late 1990's, most notably as a result of the introduction of the Water Environment Water Services Act (Scotland) 2003; however similar legislation, requiring the use of SUDS, is yet to be introduced to the rest of the UK.

Recognising the changing trends within the development industry, Greenbelt are now working in conjunction with Dundee's University of Abertay under a Government sponsored Knowledge Transfer Partnership to share learning and further develop knowledge within this field. The Partnership's aims include:

  • developing robust and up to the minute training packages for staff and contractors based upon current industry best practice,
  • enhancing inspection and monitoring programmes,
  • improving the handover process of SUDS within new developments, and
  • working with developers to ensure that the design and construction of sustainable drainage systems is in accordance with best practice.

SUDS replace traditional piped systems for managing surface water runoff, using one or more components in series to detain, treat and convey rainfall. Examples of common SUDS include:

  • Retention ponds - permanent water ponds which detain rainfall for a given period and remove pollutants by biological treatment prior to discharge to the watercourse.
  • Detention basins - dry ponds that are designed to detain rainfall, promoting settlement of sediments before discharging the water at a controlled rate to the watercourse.
  • Swales - grassed open channels that can be designed to treat, store and/or convey rainfall.

Greenbelt is the only UK-wide company that owns and manages greenbelt land formed as part of new housing development and has over 6 years of experience of operation and management of sustainable drainage systems. Greenbelt currently manages over 100 SUDS throughout the UK.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Abertay's Urban Water Technology Centre, funded by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), formally the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), will create a benchmark of best practice within the development industry. Professor Chris Jefferies says: "Working with Greenbelt will expand the company's existing green space management expertise providing practical methodologies and procedures for the successful long-term operation and maintenance of SUDS."

Greenbelt's Managing Director, Alex Middleton says: "BERRs funding of this Partnership recognises the values and benefits that Abertay and Greenbelt bring to the development industry. I am confident that the results will bring beneficial new procedures to the industry."

The £100,000 funding includes a two-year contract for Abertay graduate Mr Neil Berwick as an Associate with the Partnership.

Mr Berwick has recently gained an MSc Degree with Distinction in Urban Water and Environmental Management and was awarded the Balmoral Environmental Education Award and the Conoco Phillips Environmental Award. He says: "Greenbelt is leading the field in the long term operation and maintenance of SUDS in the UK, delivering sustainable solutions to the development industry. This project offers a fantastic opportunity to further hone Greenbelts SUDS expertise - with Abertay providing cutting edge guidance and knowledge and Greenbelt feeding back how schemes work in practice - is translating research into practice."