Manufacturers launch collective effort to address UK flooding

7  Caroline Ayres, Director of The Plastic Pipes GroupThe Plastic Pipes Group (PPG), which represents the UK’s leading manufacturers of plastic piping, drainage and water management systems, have written to Government Agencies tasked with managing the country’s flooding issues to lend their expertise.

Acknowledging the multi-agency effort required to plan, finance, resource, and legislate towards protecting the UK from future flooding events, members of The Plastic Pipes Group (PPG), a specialist group within the British Plastics Federation, have volunteered to meet with organisations including DEFRA, DECC, the Environment Agency and the Department for Communities & Local Government.

Since 2011 PPG members have supplied more than a million cubic metres of surface water attenuation and infiltration systems to over 15,000 building projects and their work is intrinsically linked to developers, design consultants, engineers, academics and local authorities implementing compliant, fit-for-purpose and cost effective drainage solutions throughout the UK.

Caroline Ayres, Director of The Plastic Pipes Group, said: “Unlike the 2007 floods, whereby much of the damage to the 50,000 homes and businesses was caused by a single exceptionally large storm event, the recent situation is the result of extreme weather over a prolonged period, and with the ground saturated, we saw ground water flooding, which compounded fluvial flooding.

“Our members have considerable experience in flood management and drainage across a broad spectrum of solutions. We feel that the latest flooding raises questions about the proposed draft National SuDS standards and guidance documents which appear to place particular emphasis on managing storm water on the surface, or as close to the surface as possible.”

Surface-mounted features predominantly work via evapotranspiration or the infiltration of surface water to reduce run-off. The recent prolonged rainfall, however, meant that very little evaporation of water could take place, resulting in exceptionally high ground water levels, with flood water taking weeks to infiltrate into water logged ground.

The PPG suggests the answer lies in having the option to store excess surface water below ground, out of sight and reach of homes and businesses, until it can be safely discharged into a river or other watercourse – and to do this there must be greater recognition of the role that engineered SuDs solutions can bring.

Caroline Ayres said: “There must be further exploration into the most effective means of controlling surface water. It is time to give more consideration to how engineered SuDs systems can complement and be incorporated into landscaped SuDS schemes.”

A high-strength, factory-engineered, buried, attenuation tank can be constructed to accommodate calculated run off volumes, thus providing greater assurances to developers, authorities adopting the drainage systems, home owners and insurers alike. The fact that such tanks are buried allows the land above them to be used to create amenity and biodiversity. This potential for land use above these systems is far safer and more valuable to many in society in terms of amenity than large ponds or basins.

Caroline Ayres added: “House builders tell us they prefer to have the option to implement engineered SuDs systems, and are willing to pay for them. Such structures increase land availability and enable them to better meet the demands of their house building programmes. If the cost of building these systems is paid for by private investment we can see no reason why government would not wish to encourage their use. Managing the country’s water management issues is a hugely complex task, but we as manufacturers would be pleased to offer our drainage experts to support future flood resilience planning.”