Wales has taken steps to implement Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act (FWMA 2010).
This is likely to have a big impact on developments and the planning process in Wales.
The journey to here
SuDS on new developments is a method for managing surface water as well as providing wider benefits for society and natural resources.
Wales has looked likely to succeed in implementing the SuDS aspects of Schedule 3 of the FWMA for some time.
- The release of non-statutory technical guidance for SuDS development, following a consultation process within Welsh Government.
- The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, which plays an important role in enforcing the approach Wales takes to sustainable development.
- The re-convening of a research and consultation process including the majority of local authorities, which has been reported on and is available on the Welsh Government Website.
- The implementation of Schedule 3 announced by the Welsh Government in November.
The road ahead
The key strategy in implementing Schedule 3 in Wales will be the appointment of SuDS Approval Bodies (SABs).
Each SAB will be:
- responsible for the approval of all SuDS scheme within its authoritative boundary
- a member of the Lead Local Flood Authority.
This should iron out existing ambiguities in the adoption and maintenance of SuDS schemes.
Key outcomes of implementing Schedule 3 will be:
- Statutory National Standards on the design, construction, operation and maintenance of SuDS schemes will be published by the Welsh Government.
- SABs will ensure that all SuDS schemes must meet the National Standards to be approved.
- SABs will adopt and maintain all approved SuDS schemes.
- Construction work with impact on drainage will not start before SuDS approval.
- Reviews will cost a minimum of £350, increasing with increasing site area.
The legislation is expected to be introduced to the Assembly in May 2018 and enforced by the end of this year.
Bumps in the road?
The majority attending the Welsh Government consultation events supported the process and even believe that implementation has taken too long, but comments included:
- surface water drainage should be the responsibility of sewerage undertakers
- SABs undermine sewerage undertakers’ ability to refuse connection to existing systems
- the cost of applying for approval is not directly related to site area.
So, questions do remain on the funding of both SABs and SuDS maintenance, which has been a constraint to SAB appointment to date (particularly in England).
The last word
The new approval system for SuDS should:
- provide more clarity for adoption and maintenance of SuDS schemes
- help to encourage more sustainable development and surface water drainage that will also provide amenity and biodiversity benefits.
Wales has taken an important step forward.