Wales goes green in 2019. When will the rest of the UK follow suit?

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January 16, 2019 | Max Anderson

2019 got off to a good start for Sustainable Drainage Systems. On January 7 it became compulsory for all new developments of more than one dwelling or where the construction area is 100m2 or more in Wales to include SuDS.

Making SuDS mandatory on new developments will help the Welsh Government improve its management of the water environment in Wales, while delivering a resilient ecosystem and greater biodiversity.

Nice work Wales! But we’ve got to ask what’s holding other parts of the UK back?

While Wales is busy championing SuDS, the rest of the UK is falling behind in the commitment to SuDS – in terms of enforcement at least. That’s not to say that there aren’t some excellent examples of sustainable drainage systems in action in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You’ll find plenty of examples on the Susdrain website. It’s not even true to say that there’s no legislative element – Sewers for Adoption 8 (SfA8) is expected to come into effect mid-year; in Scotland SEPA’s guidance on SuDS is contained in WAT RM-08, and in Northern Ireland, legislation relating to SuDS is captured in the Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS, 2015) and elsewhere.

While the legislation, and intent, is certainly there, Wales has been able to achieve something that the rest of the UK appears to be struggling with: the drive to enforce legislation. Why is that? Well, we recently asked a number of key industry figures to explore that very question.  Since the Pitt Review over 10 years ago, the initial enthusiasm for SuDS has not translated into widespread and effective installation, adoption and maintenance. However, there are signs, not just in Wales, that this is changing. You can read about that discussion here.

It will be interesting to see how successful the Welsh Assembly’s active approach to speed up SuDS implementation is. Not least because of the wide-ranging benefits to the local communities and environment through improved

  • Flood risk management
  • Biodiversity
  • Water quality
  • Amenity

There are lessons to be learnt, not just from Wales but from the SuDS currently benefiting life in cities, towns, housing developments, and especially schools across the UK. That said, we expect Wales’s lead to prove a positive way forward for a greater uptake to be enjoyed England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Whatever happens in 2019, we’re looking forward to helping increase the focus and delivery of SuDS right across the UK.

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Tags: SuDS, Sewers for Adoption, sustainable drainage, biodiversity, water quality

About the Authors

Max Anderson

Max Anderson

Product Manager


Max is a Product Manager for Innovyze drainage design solutions, based in the UK. Most recently, he has been leading the conversation about sustainable drainage.