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Liz Truss, Secretary of State for the Environment

New SuDS delay as Government launches fresh round of consultation

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss has announced a new six week consultation to decide the best way to deliver Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).

No date has been given for the final implementation of SuDS with Defra simply stating that his new consultation will build on the findings of previous industry consultations.

“Alongside this consultation, officials will continue to work with key partners to address outstanding issues,” said Truss in written statement to Parliament. “Once we have the results of this work, the Government will reach final decisions on implementation.”

“We have sought an approach which meets Sir Michael’s recommendations, enables a rapid roll-out of sustainable drainage solutions at a local level and allows local planning authorities to best address site-specific local surface water run-off management concerns,” Liz Truss

SuDS were introduced under Schedule 3 of the Flood & Water Management Act (2010), and had initially intended to be implemented into the planning framework by April 2014. To the frustration of the water management companies this date was revised to October 2014 in the summer. 

The latest consultation will attempt to resolve technical issues surrounding the use of SuDS and in particular find a way to agree the ongoing difficulties over how to effectively maintain SuDS once implemented. Response is sought from industry by 24 October.

Defra said today that the new consultation document sets out “an alternative approach to the one envisaged in Flood and Water Management Act 2010 to deliver effective sustainable drainage systems that will be maintained for the lifetime of the developments they serve”. 

“My Department has worked closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government to explore options to use the existing planning system to deliver effective and well-maintained sustainable drainage systems,” said Truss in a written statement. 

“The next step is to consult on this approach. My Department, along with the Department for Communities and Local Government, is launching a joint consultation document today, setting out a possible approach for implementing sustainable drainage systems and mechanisms for ensuring their long term maintenance,” she added.

“As part of the Government’s commitment to reducing flood risk, which will see us spend £3.2 billion over the course of this Parliament, we are determined to deliver the outstanding recommendations made by Sir Michael Pitt in his 2008 Review. His recommendations included encouraging sustainable drainage systems to reduce flood risk from new developments. A key element of this is providing certainty on who will own and maintain the drainage systems in the long term. 

“We have sought an approach which meets Sir Michael’s recommendations, enables a rapid roll-out of sustainable drainage solutions at a local level and allows local planning authorities to best address site-specific local surface water run-off management concerns,” she added.

“The time has come to prioritise – and build momentum from here on; foremost we must address quantity management – complex enough in its own right, this above all is in the public eye on an almost a daily basis,” Richard Hill, ACO Technologies.

It pointed out that government had listened to industry comment and in response, “now wishes to consult on delivering sustainable drainage systems through changes to the current planning regime. We are seeking views on this approach.”

Richard Hill, managing director of ACO Technologies said that while government focus on SuDS as a solution to the nation’s on-going flood problems was applauded, the time for action was upon us.

“Arguably, as a consequence of the intense focus on SuDS resulting from the last consultation, a lot of progress has been made that should be built upon,” said Hill. “Alongside the issues of ownership and maintenance there are technical challenges that in many respects emphasise the economic challenges. Some of these may well be overcome in a relatively short period should the Government be willing to invest.”

He added: “On reflection, whilst every aspect of SuDS as commonly understood (quantity, quality, amenity and biodiversity) is valid – achieving all was far too ambitious – given technical uncertainties and critically, knowhow.”

“The time has come to prioritise – and build momentum from here on; foremost we must address quantity management – complex enough in its own right, this above all is in the public eye on an almost a daily basis,” said Hill.

Written Ministerial Statement: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-wr...

Defra background: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/sustainable-drainage-systems...

Consultation: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/water/delivering-sustainable-drainage-systems

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