Protecting Europe's Environment

- 8:43 pm - July 18th, 2016

Over the last few weeks/months there has been quite a bit of discussion centred on the benefits of staying or leaving the EU.  Before one assumes this is another BREXIT rant, and immediately switches to Facebook (to watch a cute pet doing a backwards somersault!), this blog isn’t about politics but about how the EU has shaped environmental, and in particular, SUDS legislation in Scotland.  When you think about it Brussels has developed quite a few pieces of legislation: the Habitats Directive, Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, Water Framework Directive, the Floods Directive, just to name a few.


I read an article recently, which suggested that us leaving the EU would not have a great deal of impact on how we implement SUDS in the UK.  I would question whether this is the case for Scotland, when the legislation which drives SUDS implementation has been shaped by European Directives.  SUDS became law in Scotland with the implementation of the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act in 2003 (Yes, it has been law for 13 years!).  This piece of legislation was water quality driven, with the focus being on meeting the requirements of the Water Framework Directive.  More recently the Flood Directive has changed our approach to managing flooding, requiring responsible authorities to work collaboratively not only to identify where it floods, but also to develop plans on how they intend to deal this flooding. 

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Figure 1 – Links between European Directives and Scottish legislation and guidance

Reviewing SEPA’s flood risk management strategies you will come across the following text repeatedly:

‘The area must be covered by a surface water management plan or plans that set objectives for the management of surface water flood risk and identify the most sustainable actions to achieve the objectives’.

Scottish Government Surface Water Management Planning guidance specifically refers to the preference for ‘sustainable measures’, so it is likelythat more and more SUDS retrofits will begin to appear, as part of the suite of measures available to address surface water flood risk.

So what about the future of SUDS legislation in Scotland?  If only we had a crystal ball!  What we really don’t want to do, however, is take a step backwards and forget the good work which we have done and all that we achieved.  Let's hope that the future is still bright for SUDS and that we continue to manage surface water in a way suited to the needs of the 21st century.