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Setback as Suds legislation is delayed once again

Ministers have been accused of increasing flood risk after further delaying sustainable drainage laws.

Ministers have been accused of increasing flood risk after further delaying sustainable drainage laws.

The Flood & Water Management Act 2010 included a comitment to bring in further legislation to make developers introduce sustainable urban drainage systems (Suds) to manage heavy rainfall.

This legislation was originally expected in force by April 2014, although this deadline was then put back to October.

Now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has written to stakeholders saying that the revised date will also be missed.

The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), which represents sustainability technology firms, expressed dismay at the latest delay.

“The longer the delay in the implementation of Suds, the greater the risk of flooding,” EIC deputy public affairs director Sam Ibbott told NCE .

“The point of the legislation was to mitigate that risk.”

Earlier this year ministers came under fire for approving expensive river dredging in Somerset while longer term flood prevention measures awaited funding.

Ibbott said the Suds legislation delay was “surprising” in the context of the severe flooding over the winter.

“When the Somerset Levels and parts of Surrey were under water, flooding was on all the front pages,” he said. “That would have been the perfect time for the government to talk about Suds.”

Defra said it would make a further announcement about its plans for implementing the legislation later this summer.

“The government remains committed to implementing Suds at the earliest available opportunity, but not in a
way that affects development,” it said.

“While several departments are working hard on this, it has become clear that we will not be in a position to implement Schedule 3 from October 2014, as we had hoped.”

It added that it expected legislation to go before Parliament six months before the implementation date.

This means the law is unlikely come into force this year, and Ibbott warned that it might be difficult to introduce next year ahead of the General Election.

“This could slip off the agenda,” he said. “We don’t want a delay to become a cull.”

The EIC is seeking a meeting with Defra officials to understand what the department means by only supporting Suds in a way that does not affect development.

“It is not clear what this means, but we are wary of any move to dilute the regulations,” said Ibbott. “If you think Suds affects development - you should try flooding.”

Defra has set up “task and finish” working groups to finalise the wording of national standards for Suds. It is understood that negotiations about definitions for water quality have been a sticking point.

When the law is finally passed, all developments larger than one property will have to implement Suds as defined in the standards, to the satisfaction of local authorities.

Readers' comments (1)

  • The delay in legistration does not alter the professional responsibility of the planners and Engineers and their insurers should be aware of the liabiliy involved. Repair of flood damage is expensive.
    The concept that if the cost of SUDs makes some development economically unviable, its requirement should be overlooked beggers belief! What is government for?

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