Nearly four years after a law was passed to increase the use of sustainable urban drainage systems vital infrastructure for their roll-out is still not ready
The government has pushed back measures to boost the role of sustainable drainage in the built environment, designed to to alleviate flood risks, after a failure to agree ways for the systems to be maintained.
Under the Flood Act 2010 developers will have to install sustainable drainage systems which allow more water to seep into the ground rather than flowing into the waste water system and have their plans to do this approved by local Sustainable Urban Drainage Approval Boards (Sabs).
The changes had been due to take effect in April 2014, but very few local authorities have set up the boards.
Plus, the government has yet to decide how the sustainable urban drainage systems (Suds) will be maintained and how their maintenance will be paid for.
The changes have now been pushed back to allow local authorities to set-up the Sabs and for a consultation to take place on the issues of maintenance.
The delays come after extensive flooding across great swathes of the country in recent weeks.
Developers have said the requirement to use Suds could increase the costs of some developments.
Mike Jones, chair of the Local Government Association’s environment and housing board, said it was “sensible” to delay the introduction of Suds because there was “not enough time for the necessary regulations to be made and for councils and developers to prepare to deliver them”.
He added: “It is important that the new system does not lead to an increase in tax bills and that any new obligations on councils, developers and householders are practical and achievable.
“At the moment, the government has not announced decisions about how SUDS will be funded or laid any regulations about implementing the new rules.
“We are looking forward to the Government producing a set of practical and achievable regulations, which do not put a new burden on local taxpayers, and a realistic implementation timetable for SUDS.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Reducing the impacts of flooding on houses and businesses is a key priority for us and we are committed to introducing Suds to help reduce the risk of floods from new developments.
“Suds are usually cheaper to maintain than conventional drainage, and we will be consulting soon on how they will be maintained by local authorities.”
A spokesperson for the Home Builders Federation said it was “disappointed” at the need for a delay and were “seeking certainty” over what housebuilders would have to do to comply with the Act.
He added: “Above ground solutions could be more costly than below ground ones.”