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Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) manage surface water runoff from developments in a way that mimics natural drainage processes. SuDS have been mandatory for most new developments in Wales and Scotland for several years but are now set to become mandatory for new developments in England as well. While SuDS have been advisable for English projects previously, making them a legal requirement represents a significant shift. In this post, we’ll look at what mandatory SuDS means for the UK construction industry.
SuDS encompasses a range of drainage techniques designed to manage surface water runoff sustainably. These include:
- Permeable paving - allows water to soak into the ground below rather than running off the surface.
- Rainwater harvesting - collects and stores roof runoff for later use.
- Green roofs - roofs with vegetation that can absorb and evaporate rainfall.
- Swales - vegetated channels that store and drain water.
- Detention basins - store excess water after rain and release it slowly.
SuDS aims to mimic natural drainage processes by managing runoff close to where it falls and releasing it slowly into the environment or drainage system. This reduces downstream flood risk while also improving water quality.
While SuDS have been recommended for new developments in England, they are not mandatory except for certain sites. However, updated planning guidance now states that SuDS must be provided for major developments unless demonstrated to be inappropriate.
This change won’t dramatically alter things, as most major construction projects already incorporate SuDS at the design stage. Planning policies requiring SuDS and national standards already exist, so developers are familiar with designing and building accordingly. However, the legal mandate strengthens these requirements and ensures SuDS are considered everywhere.
Mandatory inclusion of SuDS provides several benefits for the UK construction sector:
- Clarifies responsibilities - developers must now always consider SuDS rather than treating them as optional. Local authorities can also enforce SuDS inclusion more consistently.
- Level playing field - with SuDS required for all projects, developers know they won’t be undercut by competitors opting out.
- Design experience - widespread use of SuDS translates into greater industry experience with sustainable drainage techniques.
- Innovation incentives - developers must continually refine designs to meet drainage needs onsite, driving innovation.
- Reputation - SuDS inclusion demonstrates a commitment to sustainability, enhancing a company's reputation.
Requiring SuDS for new developments in England brings this part of the UK up to speed with Wales and Scotland. While SuDS have already been widely used, legal mandates ensure sustainable drainage is considered everywhere. This creates a fairer marketplace while allowing the construction industry to build expertise and drive innovation in managing surface water. Overall, mandatory SuDS represents a positive step towards more sustainable development and improved flood resilience across the country.
If you have any questions or need guidance on navigating the world of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and stormwater management, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Our experts are here to assist you every step of the way.