Recent years have seen a significant increase in severe flooding in the UK, often in areas that aren’t usually affected. We can’t change the weather, but through effective water management it is possible to reduce the damage caused by flooding, and make it easier to repair.
The flooding disasters experienced by some householders and businesses prompted the Government to take action, and on 6th April 2015 a new government policy on sustainable drainage came into force.
What is the Sustainable Drainage Policy?
Now, any local authority reviewing a planning application for a larger non-residential development or a development consisting of more than ten houses is required to formally consult their Lead Local Flood Authority. This decision follows on from a government consultation on flood management, run by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Over half the responses to the consultation were from local authorities, with other respondents including water companies and housebuilders. Over 90% of respondents agreed that Lead Local Flood Authorities were the most appropriate body to advise on sustainable drainage, and some thought that the new rules should apply to all new developments, arguing that even a single house can have a significant impact on surface water drainage.
As well as involving Lead Local Flood Authorities in their decisions, local authorities are told to ensure that drainage operations are adequate and that ongoing maintenance arrangements are in place throughout the entire lifetime of the development. Local authorities have the power to use planning conditions and planning obligations to enforce the sustainable drainage policy.
How Will This Policy Help?
The sustainable drainage policy is intended to reduce the risk of extreme flood damage by making sure that drainage systems are sustainable and can cope (as far as possible) with any flooding that may occur. Extreme floods could still cause problems even with sustainable drainage in place, but because the maintenance and repair plans for these systems are legally required to be realistic and affordable, the cost of any flood damage should be reduced in future.
The new sustainable drainage policy formalises the role of the Lead Local Flood Authorities, who had already been advising local authorities on planning applications in many areas, meaning that flood experts are required to be involved in decisions on sustainable drainage from now on. It is hoped this will lead to better planning decisions by local authorities.
Overall flood damage for a neighbourhood should be reduced as more sustainable drainage systems are installed, meaning that existing residents and businesses will benefit from new developments under this policy. The policy as it stands only covers larger developments, but the government is keeping it under review, meaning that we could see it extended to include all new developments in future.
Clearly the government agrees that we must do all we can to minimise the risk of flood damage, and tightening up the planning process for new developments was an obvious first step.
We offer a range of drainage services to our residential and commercial clients. If you are concerned about the sustainability of your drainage system and like the idea of making it more flood-proof, or are a developer working with the new sustainable drainage policy, call us today.Go back to