Water group warns government plans to make drainage systems widespread in England and Wales may fall short

Government plans to make sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) widespread across England and Wales may fall short because of insufficient funding and lack of understanding of the systems, warns one industry body.

Under the Draft Flood and Water Management Bill which was issued for public consultation last week, developers will no longer have an automatic right to connect to public sewers and will instead need to seek approval for sustainable drainage systems from new approving bodies within local authorities.

However, Alex Stephenson, chair of the British Water SUDS group, says there's a real concern that the government may be looking through rose tinted spectacles in its definition of what SUDS means. “To achieve proper adoption will mean tackling deeply embedded misperceptions about the nature of SUDS being closely associated only with 'natural' or soft solutions such as swales, ponds or wetlands. Otherwise many projects will be stopped in their tracks as being unworkable before they have even begun”.

He also added that giving local authorities new powers to assess and manage local flood risk is the right way forward. “But there has been widespread concern that the move will be ineffective unless the government provides more money to establish local authority flood engineers,” he says.