We are glad to hear this week that the House of Lords have pushed through an amendment to the Housing & Planning Bill which promotes the use of SuDS for sustainable drainage. If the amendment stays in the Housing & Planning Bill when it goes back to the Commons, it means the million houses the Government wants to build by 2020 will have a mandatory requirement to find ways to manage rainfall runoff sustainably on site.
The approach was originally put into law as part of the Flood And Water Management Act in 2010 following the 2007 floods across northern England which cost £3.2bn damage. However Schedule 3 of the legalisation was never enacted. The original intention was that developers would use SuDS techniques so that rainwater could filter slowly through the ground towards flood-prone rivers. But the Government chose not to implement the law for most new properties.
The Government have opposed the amendment, committing itself instead to reviewing current policy on sustainable drainage by April 2017, alongside the National Flood Resilience Review which it has already announced.
Baroness Parminter commended the Minister’s endeavours but refused to withdraw the amendment, dismissing the Government’s counter offer as “an option of a possibility of legislation following a review that was going to happen anyway”.
In the debate, Lord Krebs argued:
“As long as the developers have the automatic right to connect to existing drainage there is no incentive or need to implement sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)”.
Lord Krebs continued:
“England is lagging behind the devolved administrations, Northern Ireland has ended the automatic right to connect, in Scotland SuDS is a general requirement, Wales has much more extensive standards. Now is the time for the Government to respond to this amendment by saying yes we agree this is a simple and straightforward way to ensure all the new homes to be built will be protected from flooding”.