Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)

What are Sustainable Drainage Systems?

Sustainable drainage systems (also known as SuDS) are environmentally beneficial surface water drainage systems that manage water quantity (flooding), water quality (pollution), biodiversity (wildlife and plants), and amenity, while causing minimal or no long-term detrimental damage.

The main objective of SuDS is to mitigate the effects of development on the natural flow of water. In essence this involves trying to mimic the natural water flow and processes that would occur if the developments were not there. Particular attention is therefore paid to processes such as soil infiltration and percolation, bio-filtration, attenuation, and passive treatment.

SuDS are an increasingly important tool to boost environmental sustainability and help reduce the impact of climate change. From our perspective at RAB Consultants, we believe SuDS are an essential part of our business objective which is to:

Increase resilience to flood risk in the places that we work, live and play.

Why Might I Need a Sustainable Drainage System?

SuDS are a primary requirement for all developments within the planning system. All planning applications for major developments will need a SuDS strategy and, in many cases, even minor developments require serious consideration of drainage design at the planning stage.

A detailed drainage design is usually a condition of planning consent and should build on the conceptual SuDS strategy approved at the early planning stages. The design will also inform the contractor of the detailed requirements of the surface water drainage on site, including construction phasing and drawings.

As part of a detailed drainage design, the ultimate discharge point may require consent or permit from a relevant sewerage undertaker, Lead Local Flood Authority, Internal Drainage Board or Environment Agency.

We specialise in all aspects of SuDS and have experts who will help you meet the water management requirements for your planning application. This includes small developments right up to large complex sites, where other factors might be needed such as discharge consent and permits, adoption agreements, and foul sewerage design.

Our Senior Flood Risk Engineer Alexandros Tsavdaris commented:

“We can help you deliver the four pillars of SuDS within your development (water quantity, water quality, amenity, biodiversity) and maximise economic benefits through a well-designed multifunctional drainage scheme.”

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How Do Sustainable Drainage Systems Work?

The main objectives of SuDS in accordance with The SuDS Manual ‘Four Pillars’ are as follows::

  • Control the quantity of surface water runoff.
  • Improve the quantity of surface water runoff.
  • Provide amenity and biodiversity to the development.

Consequently, most SuDS are multiple benefit techniques using a combination of processes and strategies. They can be complex, and hence it is important to work with experts who have the necessary experience to design solutions that meet the increasingly stringent planning requirements.

The benefits of well-designed Sustainable Drainage Systems for any development include:

  • Reducing the risk of flooding to the built environment resulting from the development.
  • Reducing the risk of pollution and contamination through water quality management strategies
  • Improving amenity, biodiversity and natural habitats, and supporting the development of green and blue infrastructure
  • Source control and management of surface water including the recharge of groundwater supplies and the capture of rainwater for re-use purposes

These are just a few of the parameters and processes that need to be taken into consideration. It is vital that developers and landowners engage with professionals who have the necessary experience to save both time and cost.

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