The government has given its backing to the roll-out of SuDS in the UK to counter water shortages, in a move that could create great opportunities for the landscape profession.

Defras long-awaited White Paper on water

In its long-awaited white paper on water management, Water for Life, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has outlined the dangers of continued neglect of Britain’s water infrastructure. Severe weather, population growth and the need to grow more food are all making the prospect of droughts and lasting environmental damage to the UK’s water supplies a genuine threat.

The paper, published earlier this month, highlights the importance of water to the UK’s future economic growth and outlines plans to restrict how water is taken from rivers, to revamp and deregulate water markets and to put pressure on developers to use SuDS where effective.

Landscape architects have long made the argument for a more sustainable approach to drainage design. The announcement in the paper of a planned consultation on national standards on SuDS, a new approval system for sustainable drainage, plus the proposal to remove developers’ automatic right to connect to existing sewer systems, put landscape design at the centre of solutions to Britain’s water crisis.

Speaking to Horticulture Week in August this year, president elect of the Landscape Institute Sue Illman said of the proposed national standards guidelines on SuDS: “It’s a massive opportunity for a landscape architect to create some great designs as part of the public open space network, but SuDS have to be embedded in the plan from day one. The approach must be integrated into the masterplan of the site – not just bolted on at the end.”

Full details of the white paper can be found at on Defra’s website.

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