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25 Apr 2016

Sustainable drainage – Lords win Bill amendment

Posted in Latest news

Rain runs off the roofs and parking spaces - into a wildlife-rich wetland

Rain runs off the roofs and parking spaces – into a wildlife-rich wetland

New and existing homes could be better protected from flooding, after the House of Lords voted to stop new houses being automatically connected to overloaded drains.

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 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”.

Dr Richard Benwell of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) said:

“A bill bereft of environmental considerations has suddenly got a green tinge. Hopefully it will help avert a lot of misery from flooding and give a good deal of pleasure from a better local environment.”

“We warmly welcome the decisive vote in the House of Lords to require sustainable drainage in all new developments. The amendment, tabled by Baroness Parminter, Baroness Young and Lord Krebs, was supported by an authoritative alliance of water companies, water experts, civil engineers, architects and NGOs – testament to the sense of these changes supporting nature, water quality and flood alleviation”

In the debate, Lord Krebs 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”.

Baroness Andrews added:

“5.2 million homes are at risk from flooding. Clearly policy needs to shift away from policy of flood defence and towards a policy of flood resilience…(SuDS are) cheaper than the cost to maintain conventional drainage – there are good ecological reasons and good economic reasons.”


The amendment was supported by:

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) is a world-leading conservation organisation, with over 200,000 members and nine reserves across the UK. WWT pioneers wetland and wildlife conservation science and practice in the UK and all around the world and connects over a million visitors with nature at our UK wetland centres every year. www.wwt.org.uk

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is a leading source of professional expertise in transport, water supply and treatment, flood management, waste and energy. Established in 1818, it has over 88,000 members, 25% of whom are based overseas. ICE’s vision is to place civil engineering at the heart of society, delivering sustainable development through knowledge, skills and professional expertise. www.ice.org.uk

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), is the leading independent Chartered professional body for water and environment professionals, promoting excellence within the sector. www.ciwem.org
Water UK brings people together to create better policies for the future of water. We represent all major statutory water and wastewater service supply organisations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Our prime focus is on high-level policy, instigating and facilitating development of sustainable water policy that ensures lasting economic, social and environmental benefits. http://www.water.org.uk/

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members. We provide the standards, training, support and recognition that put our members – in the UK and overseas – at the peak of their profession. With government, we work to improve the design quality of public buildings, new homes and new communities. www.architecture.com

The Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) is a membership organisation that represents professionals from fields as diverse as air quality, land contamination and education – wherever you find environmental work underpinned by science. A visionary organisation leading debate, dissemination and promotion of environmental science and sustainability, the IES promotes an evidence-based approach to decision and policy making. www.the-ies.org

The Landscape Institute is the Royal Chartered Institute for Landscape Architects and Landscape professionals, including landscape designers, landscape managers, landscape planners, landscape ecologists and urban designers. As a professional body and educational charity, we work to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment for the public benefit. www.thelandscapeinstitute.org

The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) is the leading professional membership body representing and supporting 5,000 ecologists and environmental managers in the UK, Ireland and abroad. CIEEM’s vision is of a society that values the natural environment and recognises the contribution of professional ecologists and environmental managers to its conservation. www.cieem.net

The Environmental Policy Forum (EPF) is a network of UK environmental professional bodies promoting environmental sustainability and resilience for the public benefit. The EPF’s member bodies have a collective membership of around 40,000 environmental professionals, many of whom are individually chartered in environmental practice, science and engineering disciplines.

Buglife is the only organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. We’re actively working to save Britain’s rarest little animals, everything from bees to beetles, worms to woodlice and jumping spiders to jellyfish.

Salmon & Trout Conservation UK the only UK fisheries charity that campaigns for the conservation, protection and sustainable management of an aquatic environment capable of supporting an abundance of indigenous fish species, invertebrates, animals and plant life – from source to sea.

The Angling Trust is the national representative and governing body for angling in England. It is united in a collaborative relationship with Fish Legal, a separate membership association using the law to protect fish stocks and the rights of its members throughout the UK.

The Rivers Trust is the new name for the Association of Rivers Trusts which is a waterway society and registered charity, and an umbrella organisation for trusts concerned with rivers in England and Wales.

The RSPB is the country’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again.

The Wildlife Trusts want to inspire people about the natural world so that they value it, understand their relationship with it and take action to protect and restore it. There are 47 Wildlife Trusts covering the UK and the Isle of Man and Alderney. Together, The Wildlife Trusts are the UK’s largest people-powered environmental organisation working for nature’s recovery on land and at sea.