The government’s lack of a long-term strategy on SuDS is one of the three main threats to effective water level and flood risk management, according to the chairman of the ADA.
Speaking at the ADA’s 80th annual conference in London, the out-going chairman Henry Cator listed three main threats: over-regulation, lack of investment and the government’s lack of a strategy for future planning of SuDS.
Cator said over-regulation represents the biggest danger, with environmental management potentially being strangled by bureaucracy. He was also concerned by the lack of investment, particularly given the fact that nearly 60% of grade one agricultural land falls within districts managed by IDBs.
Cator also said it was not acceptable that there appears to be no long-term strategy in place for future planning of SuDS. "We need to sort out our planning system and SUDS, because we cannot keep building houses and waiting for them to flood because nobody has thought to actually build in water level management into the long-term plan. It is a charter for developers to buy, build, and then bugger off. They’re not interested in staying around to see the long-term consequences of water level management, and I don’t think that that is acceptable going forward, at a time when we’re told we need to increase the amount of house-building."
He also said that when ADA attended a workshop on SUDS "there was nobody at all from DCLG. That needs to change. They need to be part of the conversation, because without them, we are going nowhere."
Cator finished by stressing the need to work together with government and create strong partnerships to plan for the future.
This theme was echoed by his successor, Robert Caudwell. The farmer in Lincolnshire, told the conference: "I passionately believe in partnerships, and the message to all is we will work with you, if you work with us. But we must work as equal partners, and that means ADA, IDBs, local authorities, government, the Environment Agency and national agencies working on an equal footing. Partnerships take a lot of work and trust, but you can deliver more."
He concluded, "Every solution requires a partnership approach at all levels. It must be the norm. There will be difficulties, but we must work as partners."
Environment under-secretary Thérèse Coffey said the government was keen to work in partnership on SuDS, and to reduce red tape, claiming this will make environmental protection easier.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan suggested more incentives should be provided to developers to make SuDS work.