Skip to content
SuDS - credit Susdrain

News item

Sustainable drainage – refining the approach

The water industry and other stakeholders continue to work together to support the implementation of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), but a number of issues remain to be resolved.

It is vital that SuDS are implemented because they help to manage the impact of a development in order to reduce flooding and pollution caused by surface water run-off.

The government has been consulting on an alternative approach to the one outlined in Flood and Water Management Act 2010, which they have devised to help deliver effective SuDS for new and existing developments.

The consultation suggests a revision to so that SuDS are delivered via the planning system. Most Water UK members consider that this would, in principle, be a suitable way to proceed, but there are concerns.

Inherently, the planning system is affected by a range of priorities, which could lead to the desirability of SuDS being outweighed by other considerations. A further consideration is that expertise in the technical aspects of SuDS will inevitably impose a cost on planning authorities, which commonly do not possess the expertise themselves.

Water companies are well placed to adopt and maintain SuDS. However, concerns exist regarding the approach taken in the consultation: as companies are concerned about maintaining assets the construction of which they have neither specified nor approved – in contrast to conventional sewer assets they manage.

SuDS represent an integrated approach to surface water drainage issues but Water UK does not consider that this approach is currently reflected in the legislation, which could lead to a patchwork of ownership of different elements of the SuDS system. However, we are happy to consider with the government what further statutory changes might be made so that SuDS can be implemented and adopted more efficiently.

Water UK continues to work with Defra, Ofwat and other key stakeholders on the SuDS issues and will wish to engage with all stakeholders to ensure that SuDS are implemented in the most beneficial way.

Defra consultation: Delivering Sustainable Drainage Systems