Government says it will not be able to enact it by October

Sue Illman
Sue Illman very disappointed by further delays to SuDS legislation

The Government has again delayed the implementation of Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 on Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS). Sue Illman, President of the Landscape Institute, has reacted strongly, pointing out the missed opportunities and the costs associated with delays.

A letter from Peter Unwin, director general of DEFRA’s policy delivery group, says, ‘The Government remains committed to implementing SuDS at the earliest available opportunity, but not in a way that has any adverse impact on development. While several Government departments are working hard on this with Defra’s SuDS team, it has become clear that we will not be in a position to implement Schedule 3 from October 2014, as we hoped.’

Sue Illman commented, ‘It was very disappointing to read yet again of the government’s postponement of the full implementation of the Flood and Water Management Act, particularly in the face of the flooding this spring, and the recent warnings of a wet summer.

‘It is now over four years since the Act first came into force, and whilst the letter states that “The government remains committed to implementing SuDS at the earliest available opportunity…” the time taken to resolve what are undoubtedly thorny issues, such as adoption and standards for approval and implementation, has been inordinate and is still under debate.

‘The extent to which lobbying by the “antis” or “SuDS-deniers” has been effective, as is seen in the latest version of the SuDS National Standards, where everything other than water quantity has in essence, been removed – details of water quality outcomes, and opportunities to improve public amenity and biodiversity, have long since been deleted from the draft.

‘The government has made its position clear: stimulating development or not imposing (assumed) uneconomic costs on developers, overrides everything else, as their letter goes on to say “…but not in a way that has any adverse impact on development.”  However, this flies in the face of the well-documented projects, often undertaken by major developers, that fully embrace the concept of SuDS, and which see the opportunity to promote well designed, sustainable, biodiverse, and attractive schemes, that both sell easily and make them money.

‘Planning departments, professional institutions and developers have been gearing up for the full implementation of this legislation for over four years, with extensive CPD and capacity-building programmes throughout the country, whilst forward-thinking manufacturers are producing new products to assist in SuDS delivery.

‘What the government doesn’t appear to see is two-fold: firstly, the opportunity to stimulate a whole new area of business and industry; and secondly, the cost, damage and confusion being caused by the uncertainty over the completion of this essential piece of legislation. Let’s hope we don’t see a repeat of the 2007 summer floods.’

Further detail on plans for implementation will become available later this summer. Unwin’s letter says that the secondary legislation setting out the implementation will be laid before Parliament about six months before the new implementation date, allowing stakeholders ‘to have firm dates to put in place the final implementation arrangements’.

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