EFRA Post-legislative scrutiny report recommendations – the good and the misunderstood

The Post-legislative scrutiny: Flood and Water Management Act 2010 report recently published by the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) has set out a list of recommendations for the next Government. Some of these recommendations I wholeheartedly agree with, while some have left me with a feeling of déjà vu over what is and what […]

SuDS: The Alarming Disconnect Between Desire and Reality

Surface Water Swale

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) today published a new report into sustainable drainage systems (SuDS). The report—A Place For SuDS—urges the government to reduce flood risk by making effective flow control,storage and treatment of stormwater a condition of all new developments in the UK. […]

SuDS Survey Results: Can a Broad Toolbox Lift Barriers to Adoption?

Could a greater acceptance of proprietary systems as part of a broad SuDS toolbox facilitate more widespread adoption of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) across the UK? The results of the Engineering Nature’s Way SuDS: The State of the Nation Survey 2016 are published and reflect the views of professionals’ actively engaged in delivery of SuDS. […]

SuDS Survey: Why Maintenance is the Key Sticking Point for SuDS Delivery

Downstream Defender Maintenance

The results of our SuDS: The State of the Nation 2016  survey are in.  We’ve been overwhelmed by the response, and in particular the depth of professional insights provided by hundreds of respondents. We’ve been left in no doubt about the strength of feeling – indeed passion – generated by the SuDS debate among those […]

Are Water Companies the “Missing Link” for SuDS Adoption?

SuDS on a housing estate

The recommendations of the parliamentary Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee for a major upheaval of flood risk management in the UK are, perhaps, unlikely to be accepted with enthusiasm by a Government with many other current preoccupations. Yet the recommendations (EFRA MPs Demand Major Flood Reforms) do send a clear message:  flood risk […]

Are Upstream Storage and Natural Flood Management the Same Thing?

Upstream flood storage area holding excess water to prevent downstream flooding.

Upstream storage is a vastly underestimated tool for catchment-wide flood prevention that is already well proven. The White Cart Flood Prevention Scheme, for example, is an upland storage solution that has now been operating successfully for more than six years with the cooperation of the farming community.  It forms an important part of the wider […]

How to Ensure Quality in SuDS Construction

Berewood SuDS during construction with show homes in the background

Have we put the cart before the horse when it comes to ensuring quality in the construction of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)? Encouraging greater uptake, even compulsory use, of SuDS in new developments in the UK has led policymakers to put a great deal of effort into promoting best practice in design, but much less, […]

Solving the Puzzle of SuDS Ownership

Surface Water Swale

Who is best placed to own Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) in the UK? Until we put this enduringly thorny problem to bed, will we ever be able to settle on effective and workable regulations? Maintenance, and who should manage and pay for it, has often been something of an afterthought in our enthusiasm to make […]

Will Brexit make a difference to the UK Water Environment?

Berewood SuDS during construction with show homes in the background

As the UK looks to a future outside the EU with a new Prime Minister at the helm, and a new Environment Secretary in post, will there be any difference in the way our water environment is protected – or can we expect business as usual? As Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom get to work, […]

SuDS – a Matter of Definition?

If you asked a developer, a planning officer and a consulting engineer for a definition of SuDS, do you think you would get the same answer? I have a suspicion that their answers might well be significantly different.  In a recent parliamentary inquiry into future flood resilience, it was suggested that we have a problem […]

One Small Step…

NEW sustainable drainage system (SuDS) questions are to be added to the standard conveyancing searches undertaken by solicitors in England & Wales on behalf of their clients. From 4 July 2016, the Con29 enquiry form which relates to water and drainage issues of a property search will ask whether the property is served by a […]

Is English SuDS Policy Working?

SuDS on a housing estate

Do we really need another review of SuDS policy? We’ve had plenty already and, going right back to the recommendations of the Pitt Review, the case for SuDS is well proven; they are cost effective, practical, multi-functional and bring biodiversity and amenity. However, this statutory SuDS review will be different: the UK Government will investigate […]

Schedule 3 – Gone but not quite forgotten yet?

Berewood SuDS during construction with show homes in the background

THE HOUSE of Lords became the rather polite battleground last week for an attempt to revive abandoned proposals to establish a separate local authority approval system for Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) in England and remove developers’ automatic right to connect to the public sewer.   Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act (FMWA) […]

Welsh Standards Light the Way for Future SuDS Delivery

Having been born and bred in Wales, as well as currently living there, I can be forgiven for a little favouritism for the Welsh way of doing things. The new interim non-statutory SuDS standards for Wales are certainly different from their English and Scottish counterparts – and I believe they are worth studying, even for […]

Scottish SuDS Guidance Sets High Standards

Scotland has led the way in the design and implementation of SuDS. With the publication of new guidance by the SuDS Working Party in Scotland, the Scots are once again setting high standards for best practice in water and drainage infrastructure development. The Water Assessment and Drainage Assessment Guide is a clear and helpful document […]

C753: SuDS Manual Webinars Get Underway

At 964 pages, the updated CIRIA C753 : The SuDS Manual has increased in size by 50% compared to its predecessor C697 and is a formidable document to get to grips with.  More than 800 engineers tuned into the first of in our series of webinars to introduce the manual and outline its key points. […]

Let’s Work with Farmers to Manage Upstream Flood Storage Schemes

Upstream flood storage area holding excess water to prevent downstream flooding.

More use of upstream storage as a solution to flash river flooding is being considered by senior Government spokespeople, as the review time begins following another period of flooding misery. In the first week of the New Year, UK Environment Secretary Liz Truss and Neil Parish, Chair of the EFRA committee, both seemed to suggest […]

Can You Ever Fit and Forget Surface Water Drainage?

Downstream Defender Maintenance

Is there ever a time when a drainage system can be left unmaintained? And how does an owner or operator really know if it is performing as the designer intended? These are really not trick questions: clearly a piped system or a manufactured device will have a schedule for servicing that, if followed, will ensure […]

Why Drainage Dreams are Achieved Only Through Practical Progress

BEING a drainage engineer has never been a showstopper dinner table conversation topic! My profession has always had something of the prosaic and unromantic about it, which belies its potential to enable our local environments to flourish. As an engineering discipline, it’s true that urban drainage has its roots in finding solutions to protect the […]

SuDS Manual (C753) Brings Knowledge Up To Date

The so-called UK ‘bible’ for Sustainable Drainage System design and delivery has been given an important upgrade, bringing seven years of surface water management theory and practice right up to date. The revisions to the first edition published in 2007 will be widely welcomed by our industry.  I was privileged to be a member of […]

Sponge Cities: China’s solution to flooding and drought

Chongqing-Copyright Ken Marshall

What is a Sponge City? The traditional idea of managing surface water runoff in an urban environment is to funnel that water away from cities as fast as possible. Recently, however, city planners and governments are realising that this design concept is flawed as it means that they are, to all intents and purposes, throwing […]

In the effort to be green, UK Government has unwittingly unleashed a new, invisible pollution problem

The push towards biofuels from the UK Government and the wider EU has presented petrol station forecourt owners with an unexpected pollution problem. With rising global pressure to increase our use of sustainable fuels, there is a growing reliance on biofuels to help power our vehicles. EU legislation means that the mandated percentage of ethanol […]

Planning Officers Struggling to Make Sense of SuDS Guidance Muddle

Now that the dust has settled over the elections, its time to think about where we are going with SuDS, and it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, will be made now that the heavy influence of Eric Pickles has been removed. We ended the last government with the ridiculous situation that […]

Is this the End of the Beginning for Surface Water Management?

Surface Water Swale

We are at a turning point for surface water management in the UK. If you will forgive me for misquoting Churchill: this is not the end, or even the beginning of the end for SuDS.  It simply has to be the end of the beginning if we are to secure long-term flood resilience and surface […]

Our top ten wish-list for the Environment Secretary and her new floods and water minister

As the majority Conservative Government gets to work, Environment Secretary Liz Truss has returned to her desk and new under-secretary Rory Stewart has been appointed with a brief including the natural environment, floods and water and lead responsibility for overseeing the Environment Agency. In the Queen’s Speech on May 27, the Government reiterated its promise […]

New SuDS Regulations – Where Now for SuDS?

Swale with manhole in foreground

A brave new world for SuDS began when new planning regulations came into force last month, designed to ensure, where possible, that Sustainable Drainage Systems are used on major new developments in England. With a much-needed push for new homes underway, it ought to be a relief that more than 10 years of wrangling over […]

Manifestos for Floods and SuDs? Reviewing the Parties’ Election Agendas

Berewood SuDS during construction with show homes in the background

Throughout the election campaign all the main parties have been united in one commitment at least – that tackling the housing crisis will be top of the agenda for the next Government. After the General Election, incentivising new homes building will be a priority and that has to be good news for the country and […]

Election Countdown – A vote for flood investment

Bradford Upon Avon Flood

With the countdown to the 2015 General Election underway, the two main parties have already gone head-to-head on flood spending and flooding is a fighting issue in a number of key marginal seats, which should keep it in the public eye. Meanwhile, in a highly-unusual show of unity, the three main parties came together on […]

Flood Defences: Getting our Priorities Right

When the cuts start to bite, what’s the best way to spend limited flood defence funding? It’s a debate that’s crystallising priorities amongst policymakers, politicians and affected communities. Not always for the better – and just as the prospect of another wet winter is looming. On December 2, the Government published details of how£2.3billion of […]

Fudge and Free-For-All? What to Make of The Alternative SuDS Plan?

Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more confusion. Threatened delay and disagreement on Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) has cast yet another cloud in a storm that has been rumbling on for years. There has been considerable strength in the response to the Government’s revised proposals for SuDS implementation on new developments. However, I […]