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Local authority funding insufficient to meet new SUDS duties

Local authorities (LAs) will be unable to mitigate the risks of flooding using sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) unless they receive better funding and knowledge, warned surface water drainage specialist Hydro International yesterday.

“Our fear is that £15M announced by environment secretary Hillary Benn will just not be enough to allow each LA to build up the necessary expertise and resources required to replace all the knowledge lost over the last two or three decades,“ warned Hydro International director of its Stormwater Division Alex Stephenson, who is also chair of the British Water SUDS group.

The government’s response to Sir Michael Pitt’s review into 2007’s summer flooding is a precursor to the draft Water and Floods Bill in Spring 2009.

“The government’s response concentrates heavily on how to improve the way the UK deals with floods once they have happened," Stephenson said. "The new bill must have a more practical emphasis on how the UK is realistically going to improve the surface water drainage infrastructure by the implementation of realistic SUDS measures and mitigate flood risk.

“The problem is the depth of misunderstanding of the scope of SUDS techniques which still endures and a tendency to pigeonhole SUDS as natural measures such as swales and ponds, rather than a comprehensive toolbox of both engineered and natural measures."

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