Sustainable drainage regulations come into force in Wales

Regulations for Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs) for new property developments in Wales came into force yesterday.

The mandatory regulations introduced by the Welsh Government will help reduce flood risk and improve water quality.

From now on:

  • All new developments of more than 1 house or where the construction area is 100m2 or more, will require sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) for managing surface water.
  • Drainage systems for all new developments must be designed and built in accordance with statutory SuDS standards.
  • Local authorities will become the SuDS Approving Body (SAB).

SuDS schemes must be approved by the local authority acting in its SAB role before construction work begins. The SAB will have a duty to adopt compliant SuDS so long as it is built and functions in accordance with the approved proposals, including any SAB conditions of approval.

According to the Welsh Assembly, the regulations will also help to ensure that “environmental standards are maintained and improved in a post-Brexit world”, with the issue of flooding addressed in an environmentally friendly way through sustainable methods.

Surface runoff water can be a major source of pollution, both directly and from overwhelmed sewers discharging into rivers. Further benefits from the regulations include improving the surrounding wildlife and biodiversity and helping to reduce pollution on new housing developments through the use of effectively designed and constructed SuDS. SuDS are designed to reduce surface water runoff and improve water quality while being more resilient and longer lasting than conventional drainage.

Around 163,000 properties in Wales are at risk of surface water flooding and employing sustainable drainage systems is estimated to reduce flood damage by up to 30%.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:

“Flooding can have a devastating impact on home owners and it is important that every effort is made to protect houses and limit the damage caused by surface water flooding.

“Last year saw several instances of severe flooding in Wales highlighting the importance of introducing measures to combat the challenges faced by climate change.

“We hope that these regulations will have a positive impact for future generations and help ensure Wales maintains its high environmental standards post-Brexit.”

In October 2018 the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee criticised the Government’s decision not to include mandatory-requirements on urban green infrastructure and SuDS in all new developments.