Somerset County Council

Sustainable Drainage in Somerset


Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) offer an approach to drainage that mitigates the impact of new development on flood risk and builds our resilience to flooding. It also provides opportunities to remove pollutants from urban run-off at source, and combines water management with green space, with benefits for amenity, recreation and wildlife.

From 6 April 2015 local planning policy and decisions on Major Developments (10 dwellings or more; or equivalent non-residential or mixed development) are expected to make sure that sustainable drainage systems for the management of run-off are put in place, unless demonstrated to be inappropriate. The current national policy requirement, that all new developments in areas at risk of flooding should give priority to the use of sustainable drainage systems, will continue to apply.

Lead Local Flood Authority as a Statutory Consultee
As a Lead Local Flood Authority, we are now a Statutory Consultee on the drainage aspect of Major Planning Applications. Please contact us to find out more

We welcome enquiries before applications and encourage developers to look at the West of England SuDS Developer Guidance for more information.

West of England SuDS Developer Guidance
We have collaborated with Bristol City, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils to develop a SuDS guidance document.

The guide is primarily intended to be used by developers, planners, designers and consultants who are looking for guidance on the requirements for the design and approval of SuDS in the sub-region of the West of England and Somerset. 

It provides information on the planning, design and delivery of attractive, high quality and well-integrated SuDS schemes which should offer multiple benefits to the environment and community alike. The aim is to show that meeting these requirements need not be an onerous task and can greatly help add to the appeal of your development. The guide aims to support developers in their understanding of how the current development management process supports the delivery of high quality SuDS.

There is a copy of the guide in the Information and resources section of this page.

Other SuDS activities involving Somerset County Council 

In addition to our statutory duties we are involved in a number of projects on urban water management with the aim of improving SuDS provision in Somerset. Following the serious flood events in the county that led to the 20 Year Somerset Flood Action Plan, a number of common questions were posed:

  • How can we better manage urban run-off?
  • Are we achieving all we can for sustainable drainage (SuDS) through the planning process?
  • How can we encourage developers and residents/businesses to consider SuDS when developing/redeveloping sites? 
  • Are SuDS delivered by developers being constructed in accordance with the approved drawings?
  • Are SuDS in Somerset functioning as they should and are they delivering the anticipated benefits?
  • Are SuDS being maintained appropriately once constructed? 

One of the workstreams delivering the actions contained in the Somerset Flood Action Plan is 'Urban Water Management'. This workstream was created to reduce run-off and its impact from both existing and proposed developments, principally for flood risk management benefits. The Somerset Rivers Authority provides funding for a number of enhanced activities seeking to improve and promote SuDS in Somerset.

We are working with other risk management and local planning authorities to build evidence to prove or disprove these concerns and to implement measures to address known shortcomings, supported by the additional funding available through the Somerset Rivers Authority.

You can find an update about current projects in the Information and resources section of this page.

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