Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)
Produced in partnership with Dr Paul Ellis of GeoSmart Information Ltd
Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)

The following Environment practice note produced in partnership with Dr Paul Ellis of GeoSmart Information Ltd provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)
  • Introduction to SuDS
  • What are SuDS?
  • Advising on SuDS
  • Why do we need SuDS?
  • SuDS implications—adoption and maintenance
  • Types of SuDS
  • Drainage hierarchy
  • Pollution
  • SuDS guidance
  • More...

Introduction to SuDS

In a natural setting, rainfall will be intercepted by vegetation or infiltrated into the ground, dependent on the soil characteristics, until the infiltration capacity is exceeded. Intense or prolonged rainfall can result in large amounts of run-off. If unmanaged this can cause flooding and appropriate drainage design is required to avoid flooding, both on site and further downstream.

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) represent an alternative approach to traditional piped drainage systems in managing site rainfall run-off and have been part of flood risk policy for the constituent countries of the United Kingdom for at least 15 years. However, the legal driver for SuDS in respect of major developments in England has been considerably strengthened following a change to planning law and policy in April 2015. Since then, government planning policy in England and planning decisions include a presumption in favour of SuDS being used for all major development sites, unless they can be shown to be 'inappropriate'.

What are SuDS?

SuDS are designed to maximise the benefits from surface water management. SuDS control surface water runoff close to where it falls. SuDS are designed to replicate, as closely as possible, the natural drainage from the site before development to ensure that the flood risk downstream does not increase as a result of the site being developed, and that the site will have satisfactory drainage under

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