Flooding: why we must take action now

Flooding: why we must take action now

Greenbelt calls for the urgent adoption of SUDS

Alex Middleton, Chief Executive of Greenbelt, has called for urgent action after it was revealed a four-year stalemate in the implementation of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) could now go on indefinitely, despite a deal having been agreed.

Agreement had been reached on who should take ownership and maintain new anti-flood landscape features – new legislative and regulatory processes would see local councils in England and Wales responsible for the approval, adoption and maintenance of SUDS for new developments.

The deal had taken four years to achieve and Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) planned to introduce the rules in April. Now, however, the government has indefinitely postponed plans to introduce the new measures for further talks on details.

Mr Middleton commented: "We are incredibly disappointed at the delay to set up the processes for the adoption of SUDS. Recent events showed dramatically the enormous scale of the problems we face in combatting urban flooding – it’s only logical that any further delay could prove catastrophic in the short and long term.

“What we need now, as a matter of some urgency, is to move forward with the adoption of SUDS, while also addressing the concerns many developers have about the long-term operation and management of the systems.

"Beyond the obvious impact of potential new flooding, there is a detrimental effect on the house building industry. The uncertainty brought about by this delay could prove debilitating for all those involved in the sector: house builders need reassurances about the systems they will be required to install and the processes for having them approved. They also need to know precisely when it is going to be feasible to move on implementing SUDS."

As industry pioneers of the effective use of the SUDS for new developments, and having invested in research with scientists at Abertay University and consulted extensively with government agencies, Greenbelt is now urging greater debate on how best to move forward.

Mr Middleton noted: “Unless all those involved in flood prevention begin to work together for a coherent and cohesive approach to Sustainable Urban Drainages Systems, inevitably the situation is only going to get worse.”

Greenbelt, which manages more than 100 SUDS nationwide, last week announced that it will be hosting its own company “SUDS Summit” to investigate the best solutions to assist the industry and its decision makers to facilitate moving forward with a coherent strategy for implementation.