SRA Annual Report 2019-20: SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems) inspections and demonstration sites

Picking up on points from the SRA’s major SuDS Review, which noted inadequate site management practices and site defects, an SRA-funded SuDS Inspections service has allowed local councils to check developments while they are being built. This intelligence-guided pro-active service is led for the SRA by Somerset County Council’s Flood Risk Management Team, working closely with highways inspectors and district council planners.

Fine judgements need to be made about when it is best to visit sites so that if problems are found they can be easily rectified for the good of a development and the people who will live or work there, without recourse to enforcement.

Sites inspected over the last year include ones at Cheddar, Frome, Glastonbury, Henstridge, Langport, Monkton Heathfield and Taunton.

The SRA has part-funded Somerset County Council’s involvement in the EU-backed Interreg 2 Seas Somerset Sponge 2020 project. The county council is one of nine project partners based across the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium. Another is Westcountry Rivers Trust. The council and the Rivers Trust have focused on Taunton.

The aim of Sponge2020 is to encourage ‘innovative participatory adaptation solutions to reduce the risks of and damage from urban flooding… at considerably lower costs’. As Taunton has been designated a Garden Town, the county council has been collaborating with Somerset West and Taunton Council on the design and construction of additional SuDS at Coal Orchard. GreenBlue Urban tree pits will bring water storage and water quality benefits. Good quality mature trees will enhance the regeneration of this high-profile town centre site.

Also as part of Sponge, a proposal to retrofit SuDS onto car parking areas at County Hall and Shire Hall has been developed for the county council by contractors WSP. This proposal is currently progressing through the necessary statutory approval processes.

A site near Parkfield School in Taunton has been identified for a Highway SuDS Retrofit Trial. This will show how SuDS can deal with surface water and deliver more benefits than traditional drainage schemes. The school is particularly keen on proposals for improving safety for pedestrians and enhancing part of the local environment. It is hoped to give pupils chance for some active learning with Somerset County Council ecologists.

This project is being led for the SRA by Somerset County Council’s Flood Risk Management Team working in partnership with the Highways Department. Design is scheduled for this year, and construction for next. The idea is to allow more time for the coronavirus pandemic to recede so that pupils can get involved

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