Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)

SuDS Principles

Approaches to managing surface water which take account of water quantity, water quality, public amenity and biodiversity issues are collectively referred to as Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).

Conventional drainage systems employ underground pipe networks which prevent localised flooding by conveying water away as quickly as possible; they are only effective at managing water quantity (flows and volumes). SuDS are able to manage surface water flows and volumes in open features on the ground surface, whilst also providing benefits to water quality, public amenity and biodiversity. These systems are more sustainable than conventional drainage methods because they:

  • Manage runoff volumes and flow rates, reducing the impact of urbanisation on flooding;
  • Protect or enhance water quality;
  • Are sympathetic to the environmental setting and the needs of the local community;
  • Provide a habitat for wildlife in urban watercourses.

More information regarding SuDS can be found on the Susdrain website.

Legislation Changes and Implications

Under Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water management Act (2010), Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) were to be required to establish a SuDS Approval Body (SAB) which would have required Devon County Council (DCC) to approve, adopt and maintain SuDS features in new developments. However, in December 2014, the Government announced that Schedule 3 would not be enacted because SuDS would be dealt with by strengthening existing planning policy instead. This change, which took effect on 6th April 2015, requires Local Planning Authorities to make the final decision about the suitability of the SuDS provision on new developments and whether it is proportionate to the level of flood risk affecting the site.

Whilst DCC will no longer be required to establish a SAB, we are now a statutory consultee for major developments which have surface water implications. This new responsibility requires us to provide comments in relation to surface water drainage aspects of planning applications, usually within 21 days.

Sustainable Drainage Systems: Guidance for Devon

We advise all applicants intending to submit a planning application for a major development to refer to our Sustainable Drainage Systems: Guidance for Devon document.

When submitting a planning application of this nature, we require applicants to provide a surface water management plan which demonstrates how surface water from the proposed development will be disposed of in a manner that does not increase flood risk elsewhere, in accordance with the principles of SuDS.

Last updated: January 2017

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