SuDS in Wales: Mandatory Implementation set for January 2019

Following a series of consultations on SuDS in Wales (Sustainable Drainage Systems), the Welsh Minister for Environment has now signed the Commencement Order. This brings Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 into force in Wales.

From January 7 2019, all proposed new developments must include SuDS in Wales . These must comply with the Welsh Ministers’ Standards and signed off by the SuDS Approval Body (SAB).

The current voluntary standards  will become mandatory at the same time. Enshrined in these are the following core principles that developers must follow:

  • Water to be managed on or as close to the surface and source of the runoff as possible.
  • Ensure pollution is prevented at source, not rely on the drainage system to treat it.
  • Protect people from increased flood risk, and the environment from ecological changes in flow rates, patterns and sediment movement caused by the development
  • Use a Management Train in series across a site rather than a single “end of pipe” feature, such as a pond, to serve the whole development
  • SuDS should perform safely, reliably and effectively over the design life of the development. They must take into account the need for reasonable levels of maintenance
  • Avoid the need for pumping where possible;
  • Be affordable, taking into account both construction and long term maintenance costs and the additional environmental and social benefits afforded by the system.

“Sense of Urgency” to get Implemented

The consultation in May 2017 sought views on using Schedule 3 of the 2010, while a follow up examined how it could be implemented. It focused on how legislation would bring forward and operate the approval and adoption system, fees and provisions for enforcement and appeals.

Feedback from workshops held in Carmarthen, Llandudno and Cardiff, were combined with direct responses to the Welsh Government. This was summarised in their response to the consultation.

Broadly speaking, there was support for most of the Government proposals.  A number of local authorities, whose staff made up half of the respondents, expressed concern that they might be expected to implement the new approval process. They felt that would not allow sufficient time for preparation.

However, a sense of urgency was expressed, citing the increasing pace of new developments and the potential for missed opportunities if Schedule 3 is delayed further.

Existing Planning Applications

On transitional arrangements, whilst there was broad support for a twelve month exemption where planning permission is in place, it remains a key objective that planned development is not impacted.

Therefore, any development for which there is an existing planning permission or for which a valid application has been made before the SuDS requirements come into force, SAB approval will not be required.

This could lead to a rush of applications by developers ahead of mandation. However,  the Welsh Government felt that developers will balance the avoidance of the need for approval against the benefits from the use of the SuDS approach and the advantages of the SAB being able to adopt the surface water systems.

All new planning applications made following mandation, will then need SAB approval.

Getting SuDS Ready

Working with its SuDS Advisory Panel, the Welsh Government is further developing the necessary legislation, guidance and training. A “Frequently Asked Questions” document is being developed to support implementation and a training event for local authorities’ members and staff, as well as developers and their agents is now in preparation.
The SAB duty will sit with local authorities. They and the Welsh Local Government Association are working to develop application forms and ensure they are in a position to receive and process applications from January 7th 2019 when Schedule 3 comes into force.
Developers, architects and planning consultants working with their clients on projects in Welsh Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) should start planning their SuDS approach now. Understanding site drainage and suitability for the diverse range of SuDS management measures is a key part of assessing how they will need to be incorporated on site.

GeoSmart’s SuDSmart solutions provide an initial view on site infiltration capability for surface water drainage and can move onto more detailed run off calculations and preliminary SuDS design that can be used as part of the pre-planning engagement process with the relevant LPA.

For more information on SuDSmart, contact us on 01743 581 415, email us at