New Approach to SuDS in England

In January the UK Government announced their commitment to implement Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, with further information of Defra’s ongoing work provided at Flood and Coast Conference 2023.

Faye Tomalin | Principal Flood Risk and Drainage Consultant

Legislation implementation

We recently attended Flood and Coast Conference 2023 to hear a keynote speech from Julie Mayhew, former Head of Water, Waste and Drainage at Defra, on the implementation of Schedule 3 in England. The speech follows UK government’s announcement in January 2023 that Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act shall be enacted as written. Regulations and processes for the inclusion of sustainable drainage on new developments are in the process of being prepared, with a forthcoming public consultation on the national standards and statutory instruments expected later this year. Implementation of the new approach is anticipated during 2024.

What is Schedule 3?

In 2010, the Flood and Water Management Act was passed in UK Parliament following the Pitt Review of the 2007 floods. Schedule 3 of the Act would result in Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) becoming Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) Approval Bodies (SABs). SABs would be responsible for approving and adopting drainage systems on new developments, subject to the application of national standards. The process would be separate to the planning process, and SAB approval would be required prior to development commencing on site.

SuDS are a natural approach to drainage which closely mimics nature and manages rainfall as close to where it falls as possible. Under Schedule 3, SuDS will become the default option for surface water drainage on new developments, removing the automatic right to connect to the public sewerage system without having first considered a more sustainable discharge location.

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Key message

Defra will carry out a public consultation to collect views on the statutory instruments, impact assessment and standards required for implementing Schedule 3 during later in 2023.  We will be responding to this consultation and we encourage others to do the same. 

Our reflections

We welcome the news that the Government is intending to implement Schedule 3 in England. The shift in policy will be a significant change for both developers and Local Authorities, requiring adaptation in their approach and response to drainage proposals. Since the enactment of Schedule 3 in Wales in January 2019, we have been working with developers in Wales to implement SuDS on new developments in line with the Welsh statutory standards. More recently, we have helped to boost SAB capacity by offering bespoke training courses and support SABs with their reviews and approvals of SuDS applications.

Our reflections
Our reflections

Integrating SuDS

We have seen first-hand the impact of the standards on the provision of greener development sites, providing increased amenity and biodiversity benefits to the end user. Slowly but surely in Wales, SuDS are beginning to be thought of from the outset of development, providing sufficient space on site for SuDS, with assets incorporated into the landscape and public space provision of the site. Our scheme at Telford Street, Newport is a great example of the use of SuDS on site to provide multiple benefits to the residents.

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Want to know more?

Email Faye Tomalin, Principal Flood Risk and Drainage Consultant, for more information on our SuDS work and Schedule 3.

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