A little-known piece of legislation, which has been discussed since 2010, is finally being brought into effect in the face of growing flood risk and sewage pollution: the Flood and Water Management Act came into place in 2010 as a result of the widescale floods that happened in 2007, when 55,000 properties were flooded.
The government has announced that it will finally implement Schedule 3 of the Act, which mandates sustainable drainage (SuDS) in new developments.
This is excellent news for several reasons In particular, water will now be managed at a local, new development level. This means that communities nearby will now have peace of mind that new developments will not make flood risk worse for them. The new rules are being discussed now, with implementation anticipated for 2024.
Sustainable drainage systems – also known as SuDS – are designed to both manage the flood and pollution risks resulting from urban runoff by using a combination of ponds, swales, soakaways, tree pits, permeable paving, naming just a few methods.
As well as managing flash floods and reducing the risk of sewage spills, SuDS can clean-up polluted water running from roads, recharge depleted ground water supplies. This means it is also useful in times of water scarcity, and it provides beautiful blue/green spaces in our urban environments.
The good news is it is perfectly possible for all homeowners to incorporate SuDS to help make a difference now:
- Instead of having hard paving on your drive, opt for permeable paving or a plastic ‘honeycomb system’ (a system of plastic grids) that you can either fill with soil and then plant grass seed, or fill with gravel. The honeycomb system will contain the gravel and keep it in place – either way, it is robust enough for a car to be parked on, but allows water to soak through;
- Install a water butt to slow down the runoff from your roof, and in the event of extreme wet weather events, empty excess water from the container to ensure as much additional run-off can be captured;
- Create a ‘rain planter’ into which you can divert rainwater from your roof downpipe – a job that isn’t too difficult to do for many DIY enthusiasts;
- Plant water thirsty shrubs in your garden, and include lawn in both your front and rear gardens where possible, so as many surface water can naturally drain away;
- You could even grow a lightweight ‘green roof’ on your shed roof, which will help to capture and use rainwater;
- Plant a hedge to divide you from the street to not only encourage wildlife but screen off pollutants from the road. If you really need a fence, grow roses or an evergreen climber (such as Jasmine) up it.
Ultimately, reducing the risk of flooding and water pollution by limiting the use of impermeable services and instead replicating natural drainage solutions will be welcomed by all, and help create a more resilient future for growing communities across the country.
Copyright 2023, Mary Long-Dhonau