Sustainable drainage – Lords win Bill amendment

If the amend stays in the Housing & Planning Bill when it goes back to the Commons, it means the million houses the Government wants to build by 2020 will all need to find ways to let rainwater soak away on site.

The move would stop rainwater from new properties being piped quickly towards flooding pressure points. It was originally put into law following the 2007 floods across northern England which cost £3.2bn damage. Instead, developers were supposed to use SuDS techniques like ponds, green roofs and natural soakaway areas of ground (swales) so that rainwater could filter slowly through the ground towards flood-prone rivers. But the Government chose not to implement the law for most new properties.

The Government opposed the amendment, committing itself instead to reviewing current policy on sustainable drainage by April 2017, alongside the National Flood Resilience Review which it has already announced.

Baroness Parminter commended the Minister’s endeavours but refused to withdraw the amendment, dismissing the Government’s counter offer as “an option of a possibility of legislation following a review that was going to happen anyway”.

In the debate, Lord Krebs (who provided a keynote speech at the release of CIRIA's new SuDS Manual) argued:

“As long as the developers have the automatic right to connect to existing drainage there is no incentive or need to implement sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)”.

Lord Krebs continued:

“England is lagging behind the devolved administrations, Northern Ireland has ended the automatic right to connect, in Scotland SuDS is a general requirement, Wales has much more extensive standards. Now is the time for the Government to respond to this amendment by saying yes we agree this is a simple and straightforward way to ensure all the new homes to be built will be protected from flooding".

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