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Implementation of the Sustainable Drainage Systems provisions in Schedule 3. Flood and Water Management Act 2010. December 2011

Sustainable Drainage Systems Team
Area 2A
Ergon House
London, SW1P 2AL
Email: suds [at]

A Response from the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers to the Consultation on the Implementation of the Sustainable Drainage Systems provisions in Schedule 3. Flood and Water Management Act 2010. December 2011.

The Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO) is the national body representing Local Government archaeology services at County, District, Metropolitan, Unitary and National Park authority level. These services maintain Historic Environment Records (HERs) and provide advice to nearly all Local Planning Authorities in the country. ALGAO: England co-ordinates the views of its member authorities and presents them to government and to other national organisations. It also acts as an advisor to the Local Government Association (LGA) on archaeological matters. The range of interests of our members embraces all aspects of the historic environment, including archaeology, buildings and the historic landscape.

General Comments
The historic environment is a non-renewable resource which is critical to the study and understanding of the history and development of this country from the distant to the recent past. It is also a resource with huge potential for understanding identity and place, for contributing to the quality of life, for sustainable growth and for delivering a wide range of economic, social and cultural benefits.
The historic environment is vulnerable to change, once destroyed archaeological evidence is lost for ever. Mitigation strategies can be developed for historic assets that are under threat, based upon an understanding of their significance and the degree of impact of change proposed; this approach is set out in Government legislation and policies on the historic environment, including the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and PPS5: Planning for the Historic Environment (2010) in England.

The consultation document does not make sufficient reference to the historic environment. The implementation of the SuDS provisions will have historic environment implications, especially with respect to undesignated archaeological sites. We therefore welcome this opportunity to comment on the Government’s proposals for the Implementation of the Sustainable Drainage Systems provisions in Schedule 3. We are concerned to ensure that measures are in place to identify and deal with impacts (both direct and indirect) upon the historic environment.

We consider the intention to use the current planning system as a model to develop your proposals (see para 1.26) to be a good starting point. This system has a tried and tested process of identifying issues related to the historic environment and which professional is best placed to deal with them within the relevant local planning authority. The current principles and processes for dealing with the historic environment and current good practice within the planning system could transfer easily to the SuDS.

In response to Consultation Questions

Question 1
We have based our proposals on the evidence, outlined in our Impact Assessment, of the impact of surface runoff on future development and the benefits of SuDS. Do you have any additional evidence that may alter the recommendations of the Impact Assessment?

Thresholds/size is not a suitable method with regard to a consideration of the impact on the historic environment, especially with respect to undesignated archaeology. In archaeologically sensitive areas, even a small SuDS could have a highly detrimental impact. ALGAO already has examples of SuDS that have resulted in damage to archaeological sites because of a lack of appropriate prior consultation and we are concerned that procedures are put in place as soon as possible to ensure appropriate protection for archaeological assets. Historic environment services should therefore be consulted on SuDS applications to identify archaeological potential and constraints. This should include the use of up to date information from Historic Environment Records (HERs). Archaeological constraints include undesignated archaeological sites that are demonstrably of equivalent significance to designated Scheduled Monuments. Such sites must be treated as if they are Scheduled Monuments (see PPS 5 policy HE 9.6 and draft NPPF policy 189). It should also be emphasised that expert advice will also be needed. However, such a proposed consultation process already occurs for planning applications and need not cause delays or require additional resources. The cost of the SuDS is not just monetary, but can also be environmental and this should be fully taken into account in the regulations.

Question 4
We understand that there may be capacity issues for SABs to meet their new duty to approve drainage. We are therefore considering whether to phase implementation of the requirement for approval. Do you think a phased approach is necessary?

We appreciate the concern regarding capacity issues, but consider the suggestion of initially approving only the larger schemes may result in a detrimental impact upon the historic environment. We would prefer to see some form of initial assessment of schemes to identify potential historic environment impacts, similar to a pre-application discussion.

In addition, we are keen to ensure that the SAB has access to appropriate levels of specialist historic environment advice, and that a consultation process is in place to enable issues to be identified and dealt with. How will the SAB consider archaeological implications and ensure that appropriate mitigation is secured and implemented? We would welcome clarification on these issues.

Question 5
Do you agree that development under a Neighbourhood Development Order should be exempt from the requirement of SAB approval?

From an historic environment perspective, all SuDS are potentially detrimental whether they are as part of a planning application or take place under a Neighbourhood Development Order. Therefore, we disagree that development under an NDO should be exempt.

Question 6
Drainage for surface runoff should be sustainable and affordable to build and maintain. Do the National Standards deliver this, if not please explain why?

The historic environment should be considered with regard to location, design and management of SuDS. The principles of PPS5 and associated Practice Guide should be followed.

Question 13
We propose setting a time limit of 21 days for statutory consultees to respond to the SAB. Do you agree with the timeframe proposed?

We support the encouragement to developers to engage in pre-application discussions (para 4.11), this should include historic environment professionals.

We also feel that the SAB should consult not only with English Heritage as the national body, but also with local historic environment professionals.

Question 14
We propose to give enforcement powers to the SuDS Approving Body and the local planning authority. Do you agree?


Gail Falkingham, MIfA;
ALGAO:England Executive Committee Member; ALGAO:England Planning and Legislation Committee Secretary

12 March 2012

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