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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

ACO | Planning for sustainable drainage crucial following Government’s incoming rule change

Following the government’s announcement to make sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) mandatory across England, ACO Water Management is supporting urban planners, architects and civil engineers to embed sustainable drainage into their designs.

SuDS will become a legal requirement in 2024 after a recent government review. Making SuDS a necessary obligation aims to help further reduce surface water flooding and water pollution, and lower the pressure on sewerage systems that often get overwhelmed in heavy rainfall events.

Regulations and processes are currently being established but SuDS are expected to be compulsory for any new development, building or structure over 100sqm. It is anticipated that SuDS plans will need to be submitted to SuDS Approvals Bodies (SABs), which will fall under the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA).

However, ACO Water Management, a leading drainage and water management manufacturer, warns firms not to delay in acting. Instead, it advises to start planning ahead now for the incoming changes, especially given a knowledge and skills gap across the industry.\

Sam Hawkins, National Specification Manager at ACO, said: “This rule change by the government is a welcome one and will help to address the challenges we’ve seen recently with flooding. More importantly, mandatory SuDS will ensure we can start to mitigate the effects of climate change, biodiversity loss and habitat fragmentation.

“While it seems far off, it’s vital that everybody within the construction industry pulls together now rather than ‘wait and see’, otherwise we could see residential and commercial projects being held up and exacerbating current issues we’re seeing in the sector. This is especially as we know from our own research that there are different levels of awareness around SuDS requirements, and how to implement SuDS that perform well. At ACO, we’re here to help overcome these challenges, and our team is ready to help with design and specification to ensure compliance.”

The new regulations will come about through implementation of Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, which is already in force in Wales. However, as reported by Planning Resource, the. In a recent report by ACO, titled Highway Drainage: The Route to Surface Water Management, it found similar conclusions in a survey of 100 infrastructure and highways engineers, including:

  • More than half (55%) have worked on a project where maintenance of drainage is not considered

  • Almost all (99%) have faced barriers to implement sustainable drainage system (SuDS) schemes

  • More than half (53%) said that maintaining or improving biodiversity is an afterthought during the planning phase

“It is great to see the government acknowledging the difference SuDS can make and taking the necessary steps to protect properties and natural habitats. There is much work to do, so it’s vital that water management suppliers assist in the journey,” said Sam.

“We encourage all key stakeholders to come to us if they have questions in creating sustainable drainage systems, and at ACO, we have an entire portfolio of drainage and water management solutions to assist in any scheme. Alongside this, engineers can access our free-to-use tools like our QuAD design software, and our colleagues are on hand to ensure we can provide the support required.”

To find out more about ACO Water Management and to read its highways drainage report, please visit

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