November, 2015

Planning and flooding – a story about Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs)

Although it is clear that global warming is happening and largely driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, there are uncertainties in projecting when:

  1. the extra water vapour in the atmosphere will contribute to significant rainfall
  2. the ice caps will melt
  3. drought will occur

As a result meaningful policy in the face of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) needs to recognise the uncertainties that exist.  Problems in successful climate prediction are created by the non-linear nature of climate response, uncertainties in the emissions trajectory that are followed, and the role of feedbacks in the climate system.   As a result, we believe that integrated assessments should be made through the process of risk assessment and disaster prevention1.

One significant issue is the timescale over which AGW occurs.  There are problems with how time is imagined in the future, and the issue of delivering policy options to deal with a problem that might not have policy relevance until the 2080s. As a result, the inability to grasp the concept of time beyond our own lifetimes hinders responses to climate change and requires a closer look at the long-term concept of climate change2.


On the 18th December (2014) Mr Eric Pickles5 (formerly The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) from 6 April 2015, declared local planning authorities should consult the relevant lead local flood authority on the management of surface water; satisfy themselves that the proposed minimum standards of operation are appropriate and ensure through the use of planning conditions or planning obligations that there are clear arrangements in place for ongoing maintenance over the lifetime of the development. The sustainable drainage system should be designed to ensure that the maintenance and operation requirements are economically proportionate.

The question is how does the local authority/government expect to pay if the SUDs management company ceases to exist?

Funding of a SUDs Approving Body (SAB) is one of the many issues that might have contributed to the ‘Pickles U-Turn’.


A clear problem is understanding the baseline variability in climate change and climate impacts.  For example, it is not possible to assess the magnitude of a 1:300 year flood event when we only have around 50 years of river gauge data on average in the UK.  As a result, our long term perspective on climate impacts is poor, and certainly not detailed enough to build a resilient climate policy. More research on climate variability is therefore needed to provide policymakers with the insight required to drive adaptation.

What is the difference between the cost of running a SAB and the local costs for failed SUDs?

And how does that compare with future annual damage costs of predicted at £2.8bn?6

Click above to hear a BBC Radio Cornwall Article with Martyn Alvey from Cornwall Flood Forum, Dave Watkins from Cornwall Council and later joined by Daniel Johns Head of Adaptation for the Committee on Climate Change (below), November 3rd 2015.

November 3rd 2015 News Bulletin Radio Cornwall (55s)

In January this year, experts told the Environmental Audit Committee3 , that the government were going to be building “20,000 houses a year at risk of flooding, 4000 at significant risk”.

Under the Flood and Water Management Act4 the Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs) approval process was going to be closely linked to the planning process. Once commenced, the Act would have required that future construction which has drainage implications will not be able to take place until approval of the drainage system has been given by the SUDs Approving Body. It would have been the role of the newly established SUDs Approving Body (SAB), to approve, inspect, adopt and maintain sustainable drainage systems for new developments exceeding one property.


The Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change has been asked by the Government to lead the next UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA). The summary comprehensively provides startling predictions for the 2080s. By the 2080s, with a 4° warming, with no population growth, it predicts annual costs for flood damages to be £2.8bn.

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment predicts significant damages costs and stimulates the much needed focus on funding and mitigation (to avoid exacerbating climate change/flooding).


Today (2/2/17) the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) launched their report: A Place for SuDS? is launched at the House of Lords.  The report is supported by Susdrain, University of Exeter Centre for Water Systems, Landscape Institute, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), The Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES), the Construction Industry Council Champion for Flood Mitigation and Resilience and Cornwall Community Flood Forum.

The report proposes that:

1. Discharge of surface water to the sewer system should be conditional on the inclusion rst of high-quality SuDS in new developments.

2. A clear decision must be taken with regard to the adoption and allocation of maintenance responsibilities for SuDS. This should have a clear and established mechanism for raising funds to ensure the continued effective maintenance and eventual replacement of all SuDS they adopt.

3. New standards are developed aimed at optimising opportunity to achieve amenity, biodiversity and water quality bene ts as well as ood risk reduction. These should reflect the needs of the adopting authority so that they can set out an approval process and adopt with confidence.

4. The Government should undertake a follow up review of the barriers to retro tting SuDS in existing developments and make proposals on how retro tting might be incentivised.

Also today, Cornwall Community Flood Forum wrote to the Secretary of State and Cornwall’s 6 MPs asking:

Should the Government not me minded at this stage to fully enact Schedule 3 of the F&WMA, we would be keen to learn if it would explore the economics of the well-known barrier (how such responsibilities would be resourced and funded)?

We ask what mechanism evaluates the predicted costs of flooding £2.8bn a year (UK Climate Change Risk Assessment), against the opportunities to fully achieve the benefits of water quantity and quality management, amenity and biodiversity?


*Read here to find out about today’s activity and responses in the House of Lords. The letter Luci Isaacson MSc has written as Chair of Cornwall Community Flood Forum to the Secretary of State and notes on the debate there today (in the comments).

Luci Isaacson was in the House of Lords at this event sharing how Cornwall is affected, especially with its topography, Martyn Alvey from CCFF explained the report, Suds and how they effect Truro to BBC Radio Cornwall. Paul Thomas Fowey Harbour Master also described the need to be resilient on standby to use the Fowey Flood Barrier. “Irene” from Wadebridge enjoys telling Laurence about the flood work there to create a dam and utilise wetland sustainable drainage already in place.

Listen to Luci Isaacson as she responds from the House of Lords event with the next steps, Laura Grant CIWEM talks about the report and developers, Richard Benwell WWT talks about the history of suds and most importantly the rich biodiversity opportunity.

What can you do to help?

Peter Aldous MP, asked people to write to their MPs to get government onside over key points. Please write and say: “I’m concerned about development and flooding. I think to make development drainage sustainable is not expensive and will not slow down development, all of which this new report addresses. Please could you also ask government to enact the 4 policy proposals on page 32 Thank you”

Find your MP here:

Thank you 


  1. Rial, J.A., Pielke, R.A., Sr., Beniston, M., Claussen, M., Canadell, J., Cox, P., Held, H., de Noblet-Ducoudé, N., Prinn, R., Reynolds, J.F. and Salas, J.D. (2004). Nonlinearities, feedbacks and critical thresholds within the Earth’s climate system. Climatic Change, 65, 11-38.
  2. Brace, C. & Geoghegan, H. Human geographies of climate change: Landscape, temporality, and lay knowledges. Prog. Human Geogr. 35, 284–302 (2011).
  3. (Accessed 5/11/15)
  4. (Accessed 5/11/15)
  5. (Accessed 5/11/15)
  6. (Accessed 5/11/15)
  7. Cornwall Community Flood Forum NEW page can be found here


Cycling from Truro to Paris Nov 17th

Dear all, 

Please do share the link to this post with your friends.

What an amazing bunch of fellas cycling from Truro to Paris?!

What an amazing bunch who funded the Carbon Logic Project and Report!!

Thanks all!!!!



From: RogerCO at Riseup []
Sent: 06 November 2015 13:40
Cc: Luci Isaacson
Subject: Remember Footsteps 2009

Hi All

(bcc’ing a lot of email addresses from around 2008 – 2009 and the Groundswell and Footsteps to Copenhagen events)

Of course you remember the amazing work that Luci did with the Footsteps programme and the Pledges you probably all signed and the team with Oliver taking a pilot gig to the canals of Copenhagen.

And you remember the disappointment with the outcome.

But it wasn’t the end. Five years on and COP21 is in Paris next month, again governments around the world attempt to find a way forward – at least they are still trying.

Meanwhile, as some of you know, Luci has been busy. Under the banner of Climate Vision she has followed up on those pledges and showed an amazing result. A report documenting it has been produced and this needs to get to delegates in Paris to show that not only are people, specifically 4000+ people in Cornwall, prepared to make changes in their lifestyles, but these changes come at remarkably low personal and economic cost.

Governments need to know this. They need to know that their citizens can to motivated if they would only offer leadership. And that is why we must get the report in the hands of Environment Ministers, MEPs and delegates who are swarming to Paris.

Luci has not rested – she is firing up contacts and making appointments in Paris – we are going to do the legwork for her.

“We” is Euan McPhee from Falmouth, Roger CO from Launceston, Ricky Knight from Barnstaple and Ewan Jones from Bruton.

We are going to carry the report to Paris by cycle and meet the representatives there. And along the way in every town we stop in we are meeting people, distributing the pledge cards, explaining to people why what happens in Paris is important and what they can do matters whatever the outcome.

So this is where you come in.

Euan and Roger depart from the steps of Truro Cathedral at 11am on Tuesday 17th November – can you be there to see us off?

Would you like to bring a bike and join us for a mile or two along the way?

We will be in Wadebridge that evening of 17th – come and join us in the Molesworth Arms, or in Liskeard the following evening in the Barley Sheaf.

Or get to Saltash for another crossing of the bridge on Thursday 19th – this time a mass of bicycles setting off from Fore Street at 4:30pm to ride into Plymouth for a departure rally before we board the ferry.

Or simply help us on the way by supporting our Crowdfunder to pay for rooms to hold meetings in, events to set up, places to stay, and all the other 1001 things that have come up to add value to every turn of our pedals.

For full details see our website – there’s a blog and details of the events are being posted as they get firmed up.

Find our Crowdfunder at

Find us on Facebook at

Download the Climate Vision Report at

Please do forward the details and links on to anyone you know in Cornwall who might be interested in what we are doing. Please share the Facebook page and website.

And if perchance you have any contacts in Normandy (from Avranches to Rouen via Saint Lo, Caen and Honfleur) we are looking for more contacts in those places.

Many thanks for your time, I hope you are all still well and not too many of these 5 year old email addresses have expired!

All the best


+44 7736 74 12 68

Help us get the Climate Vision Report to Paris COP21 this November

Pedal Power from Cornwall to Paris COP21