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“Significant weakening” of plans to manage flood risk from new development

Lord Krebs, Chairman of the Adaptation Sub-Committee has written to Elizabeth Truss, the Environment Secretary, to express concerns about how the government now intends to encourage the use of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in new development.

The need for greater use of SuDS was recognised following the extensive flooding in 2007.  55,000 properties were damaged, with as many as two-thirds resulting from drains and sewers being unable to cope with the heavy rainfall.  The independent Pitt Review that followed made a number of recommendations, including to promote widespread use of SuDS.

SuDS features, such as soakaways, ponds and swales, slow down and store rainwater to avoid sewer networks being overwhelmed during storms.  They also deliver a range of other benefits, such as improved local air and water quality, biodiversity, and counteracting the urban heat island effect.  New development otherwise places additional strain on existing drainage and sewerage networks.

The UK Parliament endorsed the Pitt Review’s approach to SuDS in passing the 2010 Flood and Water Management Act.  However, implementation of the SuDS parts of the Act have been repeatedly delayed due to concerns about the impact on housebuilders and the pace of new development.  The government has now consulted on a different approach, one that relies on the planning system to promote use of SuDS.

Read the letter from Lord Krebs to Elizabeth Truss in full.

Lord Krebs has also written to Dan Rogerson MP, the floods minister, to provide further advice on flood risk management expenditure following the analysis presented in the ASC’s 2014 Progress Report.  The letter, and the ASC’s Progress Report, can be found here.