SuDS banner
CIRIA logo




Follow sudsulike on Twitter



SuDS-related links

Keeping ahead
with SuDS

Attend SuDS training to keep ahead of the competition and to deliver innovative solutions in line with recognised good practice.

click here


home > using SuDS > legislation and regulation > England and Wales

Legislation England and Wales


This page outlines legislation relating to SuDS for England and Wales including:


Flood and Water Management Act

The Flood and Water Management Act received Royal assent in April 2010. The Act provides a more comprehensive management of flood risk for people, homes and businesses, protects water supplies to the consumer and helps safeguard community groups from unaffordable rises in surface water drainage charges.

The key features of the Act include:

The Act introduces into law the concept of flood risk management rather than ‘flood defence’ and provides the framework for delivery of flood and costal erosion risk management through national and local risk strategies.  At the county and unitary level the Act establishes a SuDS approving body (SAB). The SAB will have responsibility for the approval of proposed drainage systems in new developments and redevelopments (in accordance with National Standards for Sustainable Drainage). The Act also amends Section 106 of water Industry Act 1991 to make the right to connect surface water to the public sewer conditional on the SAB approving the drainage of the site. The Act also requires the SAB to adopt and maintain approved SuDS that serve more than one property. 

The Act requires Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFA’s) to maintain a register and record important flood risk management strategies and to investigate flooding to determine which authority has responsibility. 

For further information see:

National Standards for Sustainable Drainage

The Government is currently working closely with the Environment Agency, Local Authorities and House Builders to develop a set of National Standards for sustainable drainage.  The standards will reflect the need to reduce flood risk from surface water, improve water quality, improve the environment, and also ensure that the SuDS systems are robust, safe, and affordable and that requirements are predictable.

The National Standards will set out the requirement for the design, construction operation and maintenance of SuDS in England and Wales.  The standards will apply to domestic and commercial developments and redevelopments which require approval by the SAB.  They will set out guiding principles that will help developers and local authorities.  These principles include:


Flood Risk Regulations

The purpose of the Flood Risk Regulations is to transpose the European Floods Directive into domestic law and to implement its provisions.  The regulations are based on a four stage process of:

The duty is placed on the Environment Agency as the lead authority and Lead Local Flood Authorities are responsible at a local level for preparing flood risk assessments, flood risk maps and flood risk management plans. The first stage is the preparation of PFRA for submission to the Environment Agency in June 2011.   

Planning and Development Process

Planning policy provides guidance to local authorities on what can be built where.  National policy states what should be included in strategic and local policies.  Having SuDS policies at strategic level will assist in achieving multiple benefits at local level. The stronger the policy at strategic level the more likely the multiple benefits will be achieved. 

It is important to note that there is likely to be a change in National policy with the introduction of localism and a new National Planning Framework.  Therefore at this time we are uncertain how sustainable drainage will be included in the new planning framework.


Currently Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25) is the main policy statement in England promoting sustainable drainage.  PPS relating to SuDS in England include:

Policy Statement


PPS1 Delivering sustainable development

  • Regional and local planning bodies should promote sustainable drainage
  • Policies should improve the environment as part of developments.

PPS3 Housing

  • Opportunities should be taken to green residential developments and provide appropriate high density developments.

PPS9 Biodiversity and geological conservation

  • Development may provide opportunities to conserve nature and provide biodiversity.

PPS23 Planning and pollution control

  • Encourages the management of diffuse pollution.

PPS25 Development and flood risk

  • Encourages the use of sustainable drainage
  • Encourages source control and drainage exceedance.


Wales has a different local government structure to England. Planning policy Wales (PPW) sets out the land-use planning policies of the Welsh Assembly Government and is supplemented by a series of technical Advice notes (TAN). The Welsh Government has a duty under the Section 121 of the Government of Wales Act to promote sustainable development in the delivery of its functions. The following policy statements relate to sustainable drainage in Wales:

Policy Statement


Tan15: Development and flood risk

  • Encourages the use of sustainable drainage to manage surface water
  • Development should not create additional runoff when compared with the pre-development situation

Tan5: Nature conservation and planning

  • Encourages policies that enhance or preserve biodiversity.


Permitted Development Rights
In October 2008 Permitted Development Rights were introduced for householders wishing to pave over their front gardens. This enforces that if the surface to be covered is more than 5m2, planning permission will be needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not control rainwater running off onto roads. Planning permission is not needed if a new driveway uses permeable (or porous) surfacing, which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.

For further information see:


Building Regulations

Part H of the Building Regulations covers the requirements for drainage and waste disposal and came into effect in 2002.  Sustainable drainage is the preferred option for dealing with rainwater from the roof of the buildings and paved areas around the building. If a soakaway or other infiltration device is not practical then rainwater should be discharged to a watercourse or, if that is not reasonably practicable, a sewer.

For further information see: 


Code for Sustainable Homes

The code for sustainable homes was introduced in 2008 as the national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. The Code measures the sustainability of a home against nine design categories including surface water runoff. 

The code recognises the capabilities of SuDS and includes a mandatory requirement to ensure that peak run-off and annual volumes of run-off post development are no greater than the previous conditions of the site.

SuDS can help to gain credits if they specify the improvement of the quality of water discharge by either ensuring no discharge to the watercourse for the first 5 mm of rain (this equates to about half of the rainfall events) or by the SuDS having written agreements covering ownership, maintenance and operation. This essentially means that sustainable drainage is required to achieve a Code for Sustainable Homes rating and recognises that it helps remove pollution and provide opportunities for managing rainwater.   

For further information see:


Legislation and related regulation in England and Wales

Legislation affecting drainage is complex. Sustainable drainage was not widely delivered in England and Wales when much of the legislation was passed, so are not dealt with explicitly.

Some of the relevant legislation and guidance is: