Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes (SUDS)

SUDS are a feature of all new housing developments and are designed to provide the capacity to prevent heavy rain overpowering the drainage system and causing local flooding. The excess can then drain away as the pressure on the drainage network dissipates. It is likely that you will have noticed these deep sided, sloped “pits”, the size and number will vary from location to location depending on numbers and geography. Although from a wildlife point of view a more shallowish and extensive area would be the ideal, in general SUDS ponds are steep deep sided basins, as essentially the builder wants to reduce the footprint of the feature – space is money.

Now I had assumed that they would be designed to be dry most of the time (principally from a safety point of view, but also to maximize capacity ), and some do seem to be grassed over and dry. However looking at the ones created locally this does not generally appear to be the case. Quite a few have reed growing in them and even in June they often have a thin layer of water in them. Is this deliberate to provide a shallow pond habitat or a product of ground water levels ? How beneficial might these be for wildlife ?

If they do retain some water into the summer this might benefit frogs and newts, and if they retain it  throughout the year other creatures like damsel and dragonflies might also be able to exploit them. It would also help if the banks were allowed to be reasonably wild ie not heavily mown. Although as many SUDS “ponds” are situated between the houses and the road I rather suspect neat and tidy will be the order of the day, at least until all the houses are sold !

As with housing, location, location, location also matters for wildlife. Sandwiched between housing and a road, a common practice, as I suspect it pushes the houses back from the road, the possibilities for colonisation is likely to be slow. But at the Wilford Fields wildlife site one of the SUDS is situated directly adjacent the site and when I was last visited seemed to be fairly wild (but dry) and can be viewed as an extension of the wildlife area.

The SUDS pond at the housing development by the Rushcliffe Country Park is tucked in a corner of the site at the back and also seems to be retaining some water over an extended period. It is adjacent to the Ruddington country park access path and the railway land beyond, so again somewhat more open to wider influence.