What is it?

The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 implements Sir Michael Pitt’s recommendations requiring urgent legislation, following his review of the 2007 floods, to provide more comprehensive management of flood risk. The Act is to place more emphasis on Local Authorities considering surface water drainage and flooding issues prior to the planning application stage so that developments can be tailored to be sympathetic to existing flooding issues and designed to reduce the likelihood of flooding resulting from development.

What does it mean for developers?

Once the Act is fully implemented any planning application will need to be submitted with a drainage strategy document. This document maybe an extended flood risk assessment, if the site is already within the floodplain, or a separate document outlining how the site will be drained. Ideally sites will utilize the use of sustainable drainage techniques, and will substantiate proposals with supporting schematic drainage plans and calculations.

Things to consider

To enable Engineers to accurately produce these documents, developers are likely to be required to undertake additional works up front. These may require site investigation works to demonstrate the infiltration rate of a site to enable engineers to substantiate their designs. The supporting drainage statement will be submitted at the same time as the planning application and run concurrently. This would mean an engineering input at the same time as the site layouts are being considered, so features such as retention ponds, could be accommodated.

Will the Act benefit us?

Although there will be an increased level of potential ‘at risk’ work prior to planning consent, there are longer term benefits for developers. The main benefit would mean that Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUD’s) such as retention ponds, swales etc. would get adopted, which has always been a stumbling block for their use. The other main benefit is that if the SUD’s Approving Body (SAB) within the Local Authority grant approval for a drainage design, the consent cannot be refused by the Water Authority.

Are there associated costs?

Much the same as making a planning application there will be an associated cost in submitting a drainage statement to the SAB for approval either in the form of a separate fee or an increased joint application fee. Other items to consider are that although SUD’s features would get adopted by the Local Authority, these items will attract a commuted sum. There have been National Guidelines produced associated with these costs, but there is a risk is that when the Act in enforced, Local Authorities may weight these in their favour especially if they have had no prior experience with SUD’s features. It’s also envisaged that Local Authorities will request non-performance bonds, technical vetting and inspection fees when such features weren’t incorporated into road adoption agreements.

Why hasn’t the Act been implemented?

A date of April 2012 was earmarked for the widespread execution of the Act, however due to delays on consultation regarding the proposed processes and mechanisms for implementation, this is unlikely to be met. On the 1st December the act did come closer to being finalised with Sections 38 and 39 of the Act coming into force allowing risk management authorities to manage flooding, water levels and coastal erosion in the interests of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural heritage.

When will it be implemented?

Consultation is currently progressing and although the April 2012 date is unlikely, it’s widely envisaged that the act will come into force later in the year and so any applications for larger developments due to submit for planning in the first six months of 2012 may wish to consult with the Local Authority to assess the possible implications as some Local Authorities have already adopted these requirements.

Need more information?

If you have any queries as to whether this Act will affect your development or need additional advice, then please don’t hesitate to speak to us here at Infrastruct CS Ltd. Get in touch via email at info@infrastructcs.co.uk or contact us on 01865 861672.