Regulations for Sustainable Drainage Systems (Suds) for new property developments in Wales come into force today (7 January).
The mandatory regulations introduced by the Welsh government will help reduce flood risk and improve water quality.
The National Assembly passed the Sustainable Drainage (Enforcement) (Wales) Order 2018 and The Sustainable Drainage (Appeals) (Wales) Regulations 2018 on 13 November last year.
As part of the regulations, “Suds Approving Bodies” (SABs) will be set up within every local authority to approve drainage plans. The SAB or local planning authorities will have powers to issue enforcement notices to a developer who breaches the requirements.
Developers will have a right of appeal to the Welsh government against the decision of a SAB.
The Welsh government says the regulations will also help to ensure that “environmental standards are maintained and improved in a post-Brexit world”.
Around 163,000 properties in Wales are at risk of surface water flooding and employing sustainable drainage systems is estimated to reduce flood damage by up to 30 per cent, according to the Welsh government.
Suds work by making use of landscape and natural vegetation to control the flow of surface water and reduce the risk of flooding. Designs can include ponds, permeable paving and swales, which slow down the discharge of surface water more than conventional piped drainage.
Surface runoff water can also be a source of pollution, both directly and from sewers discharging into rivers. Suds are designed to reduce surface water runoff and improve water quality while being more resilient and longer lasting than conventional drainage.
Lesley Griffiths, minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, said: “Flooding can have a devastating impact on home owners and it is important that every effort is made to protect houses and limit the damage caused by surface water flooding.
“Last year saw several instances of severe flooding in Wales highlighting the importance of introducing measures to combat the challenges faced by climate change.
“We hope that these regulations will have a positive impact for future generations and help ensure Wales maintains its high environmental standards post-Brexit.”
The Welsh government launched a consultation on draft regulations for the implementation of Suds on new developments in November 2017.
Pollution and damage to the environment from surface water flooding is estimated to cost the Welsh economy around £60 million to £130 million per year.
The use of Suds on new developments was previously voluntary in Wales.
In January 2016 the Welsh government published recommended national standards for Suds in Wales on a non-statutory basis.