Sewage: Property Development

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 2 June 2023.

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Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Conservative

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of major housing developments in contributing to sewage spills into combined sewers where the standard of the pipes falls below acceptable environmental standards.

Photo of Lord Benyon Lord Benyon The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In August 2022 the Government launched the most ambitious plan to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows in water company history – the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan. This plan was published alongside an Impact Assessment.

The Government has reviewed making Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) mandatory in new developments and will do this through the implementation of Schedule 3 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. We are now looking at how best to implement, considering scope, threshold and process, while also being mindful of the cumulative impact of new regulatory burdens on the development sector. There will be a public consultation later this year with implementation expected during 2024.

The approach to managing and avoiding flood risk is also set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, underpinned by our planning guidance, applies to all sources of flooding, including from overwhelmed sewers and drainage systems. The Framework expects local planning authorities to plan for the development and infrastructure required in their area, including infrastructure for wastewater and utilities. They should work with other providers, such as sewerage companies, to assess the quality and capacity of infrastructure and its ability to meet forecast demands.

The Government has made a commitment, as part of its reform package under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, to consult on whether or not we should make water companies statutory consultees on certain planning applications, and if so, how best to do this. It will be important that water companies engage local planning authorities on the right applications at the right time so they can input effectively and not slow down the application process.

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