9 designed, and then in some cases the local authority won’t adopt it because the Standards aren’t in place. LAs will only adopt when they have a guarantee (from the Standards). On the other hand, Worcestershire County Council want to do it as part of day-to-day sustainable development, and not because they have to do it in preparation for the Standards. The National Standards are now needed, but arguably, the only people who are bothered about the Standards are those who are using them as an excuse to not have to do anything until they’re implemented. AM: One of the main challenges will be whether we have the processes in place for evaluation and inspection of SuDS schemes. LAs need to make sure they get the issues ironed out before the SAB is fully operational. Fire fighting issues once the SAB is up and running is only likely to result in poor schemes which are difficult and costly to maintain. There will be a skills shortage in the industry. Too few professionals have a full grasp of the range of design inputs for SuDS and how SuDS design should be approached. A lot of the old rule books which would have been used for conventional drainage will have to be thrown out. The LAs will have to assess what skills they have in-house and how they can be best used. There are some LAs that may struggle, they will probably either have to recruit or outsource to fill the gaps. Some are also thinking about partnership arrangements with other LAs. From a practitioners’ point of view, interpretation of the Standards by each SAB may differ, therefore meeting the expectations for delivery to obtain approval and adoption of SuDS may prove very frustrating. Good communication and agreement of the key delivery items with the SAB and developer during pre-application discussions will be instrumental in successful delivery of schemes. BB: It’s going to be a challenging 10 years. SuDS are not being taught in universities and there’s not enough training at that level to make a difference. SuDS design is not seen as a discipline so there is a huge gap in the national knowledgebank (and not just in engineering). Students are still being taught about traditional drainage methods, with very little coverage of SuDS over courses (in some cases a half day SuDS seminar in three years). There are no financial incentives for SuDS delivery and there’s no budget for council’s to upskill. The majority of people think that SuDS are a pipe system with a pond at the end, or just infiltration. It’s going to be a long time – possibly a generation – before the benefits of the Standards are felt. Q3 How can CIRIA help? BB: CIRIA training courses can give individuals a taster but it’s not enough. We can only scratch the surface. I think there will be scope in the long-term to develop a masterclass so that people can develop the required skills. CIRIA’s role should be ongoing in this area to help developers and their consultants because the universities aren’t training people sufficiently to deliver SuDS. AM: Communication is key. It needs to be appreciated that SuDS delivery is a multidisciplinary exercise (with engineers, landscape architects and others involved as necessary). The CIRIA team has a wider appreciation of SuDS and LAs will need support to fulfil their SAB role in the future. CIRIA can help deliver this through the SAB facilitation workshops available to LAs and its training. CIRIA’s trainers are independent practitioners. As part of the training delivery we focus on the approach, philosophy and principles, as well as the details. In the last year CIRIA has also launched an excellent information resource through susdrain (www.susdrain.org). Not only does this provide case studies, information and CIRIA guidance, but it also includes guidance from across the industry and a platform for discussion and sharing knowledge. For 2014 CIRIA will be providing a newly developed training course covering important aspects of evaluating SuDS schemes in line with good practice and the Standards. The course will provide methods for streamlining the evaluation process and will also cover issues of adoption and maintenance. Based on understanding the principles of a good SuDS scheme this course should provide greater confidence to evaluate and approve SuDS schemes. Q4 What can LAs do before the National Standards? BB: LAs are between a rock and a hard place! They need to do what they can now in preparation for the Standards – but many face considerable funding and resource constraints. They can’t offer adoption for housing developments, but they should be acting as if the Standards are around the corner. The power is being passed to the SAB, so the LAs should be proactive, not reactive. I don’t believe that the National Standards will create disruption or confrontation rather LAs will be supported all the way through as power will be devolved to the SAB. When they are published, we will have to live with them and get on with it. The Standards should be published so the industry is ready to get on with the practical business of dealing with it as best as they can. The delay has caused uncertainties and when the Standards are implemented it will probably be messy for a while.
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