Developers refute flood prevention delay claims

Housebuilders have denied they are to blame for delays in installing drainage systems to mitigate flooding on new developments.


The Home Builders Federation (HBF) refuted suggestions in a BBC report that its members have been lobbying against the inclusion of sustainable drainage systems ­(SuDS) in new developments.

SuDS are designed to mimic nature by managing excess rainwater where it falls rather than the traditional approach of chanelling it through drains. Examples include ponds, reed beds, drainage channels and porous driveways.

"House builders have been installing SuDS for almost a decade," a spokesman for the HBF said.

SuDS on new developments will be compulsory from April this year, as mandated by the Flood and Water Management Act. The adoption and maintenance of SuDS will transfer to SuDS Approval Bodies (SABs) that are established by local authorities.

However, very few of these are actually ready to take up this role, according to the HBF.

"Come April, we won’t have anybody to take the SuDS designs to for approval, which would result in delays to work starting on new sites. We asked for a delay until the all local authorities have set up the approval bodies," the spokesman said.

This delay has been now been agreed.

The Landscape Institute - the chartered body for landscape architects - said the government appears "paralysed" when it comes to fully implementing the Flood and Water Management Act, which aims to deliver more comprehensive management of flood risk.

Sue Illman, president of the Landscape Institute, said: "Elsewhere in the world, investment in SuDS is accepted as an economical and sustainable way of protecting against the cost of flooding".

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to report by the end of the month on the capability of the nation’s flood defences, flood response agencies and investment plans to deal with flooding.

Hugh Ellis, head of policy at the Town and Country Planning Association, said: "It is critical this review reconsiders the advice and resources of the planning service to deal with future extreme weather events as a result of climate change, including reversing proposed cuts to the staffing levels at the Environment Agency."

The review should also acknowledge the role of good urban design to deal with flooding, he added.


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