We Need Leadership to Make SuDS Happen

Written By: Managing Director, Illman Young

Sue Illman photo for blog

Participating in the Engineering Nature’s Way ‘State of the Nation Debate’ recently was in retrospect both useful and encouraging, but equally frustrating.

Encouraging to find a commonality of views regarding the need for integrated water management and the implementation of SuDS across a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds, and frustrating that there is no leadership from government to give it the impetus it needs to make it happen speedily and effectively.

So why is that leadership essential?

  • To resolve the age-old issues of adoption
  • To allow local authorities to have clarity over commencement and government’s expectations
  • To set the basic framework of the national standards
  • To give guidance on commuted sums for funding long-term maintenance
  • To achieve clarity on responsibilities between the various agencies involved

However, one also has to question whether we are just a small group of interested and committed individuals, and is ours the view on the street?  Unfortunately probably not.  So what about everyone else?

  • Do the professions fully understand the design parameters and how to integrate WSUD and SuDS effectively?
  • Are they prepared to work collaboratively to allow masterplans to be designed around natural drainage patterns?
  • Do developers see the benefits such schemes can add in terms of low-cost and added value?
  • Can all manufacturers of SuDS products work together to promote the concept rather than a few squabbling over which approach is best?
  • Do local authorities have planning policies in place that require an holistic water management approach?
  • Does the industry understand the importance of integrated water management as a means of mitigating our need for increased water resources and as a means of preventing flooding?
  • Does the industry understand the benefits, both in cost and holistically?
  • Does government understand that SuDS can be a major contributor to reducing their diffuse pollution obligations under the Water Framework Directive?
  • Do water companies understand that landscape scale soft catchment management can prevent flooding in a cost effective way?
  • Does everyone understand that unless we start retrofitting SuDS that our problems of flooding will increase exponentially?

The list of questions is endless.  On the plus side, many local authorities have geared up and are positively promoting its benefits, whilst others sit on the sidelines procrastinating.  Can we do it without government?  Only partially, as without legislation and leadership some things just won’t happen.  Hence the frustration.

However, our joint belief  at the Round Table remains: it works, its cost effective, it provides multi-functionality and a myriad of associated benefits, it can be used in almost any circumstance; so WHY are we not doing it now?

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