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The government has announced a review of law and policy on new homes in response to an amendment to the Housing & Planning Bill. The review will address the issue of mains drainage in new homes, with the discussion set to focus on whether the installation of rainwater soakaways should become obligatory.
With the number of serious floods on the rise in the UK in the last decade, these proposals have been tabled to try and ensure new homes can be part of the solution, rather than the cause.
Peter Morris, head of public relations and campaigns at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT), said: “New houses can be the victim of flooding if heavy rainwater isn’t given somewhere to go. But they can also be the cause of flooding if they simply pipe the rainwater to a flooding pressure point somewhere downhill or downstream from the development.
“The more houses we build, the more we replace absorbent land with hard surfaces and the problem gets steadily worse.”
A rainwater soakaway is an example of a sustainable drainage system, which works by mimicking natural ways to slow down the flow of water. Normally kept underground, a soakaway helps to remove and successfully dispose of surface water runoff.
Simple soakaways usually consist of a square or circular pit filled with gravel. These pits should be kept at least five metres from the foundations of the property. Rainwater soakaways allow the excess water to drain into the surrounding soil, meaning pipeworks and tanks do not need to be installed to collect it.
Soakaways that need to be able to deal with large volumes of water tend to be reinforced with concrete chambers and perforated on the bottom and the lower sides to allow the water to escape. The size of rainwater soakaway for a property is determined by a number of factors, including the ease with which the water drains through the soil, as well as the property’s size.
At the moment, England is lagging behind Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in its attempts to promote sustainable drainage. In Scotland, sustainable drainage systems are now a general requirement; Wales has extensive standards for sustainable drainage; while Northern Ireland passed a bill to end the automatic right to connect to drains.
At Drain Doctor, our experienced technicians can design and install new rainwater soakaways for domestic and commercial premises, providing the highest level of service from initial survey to final installation. For more information, please get in touch with our team today.