10Apr 2019

Why do we need SuDS Champions?

Louise Walker, CIRIA


Champions are those people who make things happen. They are inspirational to others. They understand challenges and limitations and overcome them. They don’t give up and they show what can be achieved – sometimes with a team supporting them, they are the face or the name associated with the achievement.


So why do we need SuDS champions? In February CIRIA asked whether 2019 would be a year of change for SuDS. The answer was a resounding – maybe! It is certainly a year of change for SuDS in Wales where new legislation has provided the impetus for their widespread uptake. This too was driven by a Champion, Phil Chatfield who working within an enabling policy framework was able to drive change through implementing Schedule 3. There are possibly encouraging signs in England too, with amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework and encouragement of the use of SuDS in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. The English Non-Statutory Technical Standards for SuDS support their use in flood risk management – but as all SuDS champions know, the benefits of SuDS reach far beyond just flood risk management. They are an important element of place-making and are part of the blue-green and grey infrastructure. The right SuDS in the right places improve water quality, provide amenity, support wildlife, increase biodiversity and look beautiful.


SuDS champions demonstrate what can be achieved even without legislative requirement to do so. They can be “mavericks” or “diplomats” but the outcomes are the same – delivering quality SuDS. Across the country there are people going the extra mile to create exceptional and creative schemes that are appreciated by local communities, trusted by experts and inhabited by wildlife.


SuDS champions come from different disciplines and roles too. They are creative, visionary people with a deep understanding of the context in which they are working, who see the opportunity for SuDS and are able to make their visions reality through hard work, dedication and collaboration. They may be a professional from a Local Authority working to get the best schemes approved; they may be a consultant who designs beautiful and effective schemes; they may be a developer who embraces the multiple benefits of SuDS, or they may be a key person working with communities to understand their needs and delivers the best schemes for those places.


SuDS champions inspire, inform and influence; they engage with others to successfully communicate the multiple benefits that SuDS bring and to ensure the most appropriate schemes are delivered. These are the people who have raised the importance of SuDS and will continue to do so and they should be applauded.


“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

– William Shakespeare

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