Singing from the same Hymn sheet
The forthcoming SGIF conference in Glasgow on 6-7 October 2015 (see www.sgif.org.uk ), offers a chance to hear and watch an amazing performance from Prof Richard Ashley, reprising an unforgettable performance first tested at Wapug in Blackpool last year. On a bleak November evening last year in Blackpool, an assemblage of stormwater modellers were hugely entertained by a cheeky but valuable key-note presentation from Prof. Richard Ashley. Unusually for a Wapug conference, the key-note theme was sustainable drainage, especially the frustrations associated with the long term efforts to embed the technology in routine drainage and development business in England and Wales. A team of co-authors contributed ideas, but it was the talents of Richard and Steve Wilson, that provided the hard-hitting entertainment.
A few surreal moments (aside from watching Prof Ashley dancing at the podium), were the enthusiasm with which new developments in Wales was lauded (wow it’s exciting – “there are some new policies, SUDS will be positively encouraged from now on. And there have been some actual in-the-ground developments too!”). Yet Scotland, where exactly the same level of progress was achieved in 1996, was dismissed, referring to a couple of disappointing sites, using two photographs that had been solicited from friends by asking for poor examples. Academics travel to far flung parts of the planet (Australia has been in fashion for a few years now) seeking ideas and experience to better inform and aid developments in England. Why not try seriously and professionally to learn from Scotland? One of the best ideas to come from Prof Ashley’s initiative to gather opinions and experiences together for that key-note, was to compile a “good, bad and ugly” set of examples of SUDS in practice. That is now being taken forward this year on a more objective and rational basis, seeking to enquire why some are good and others not. Going forward in Scotland, the agencies involved in implementation are actively considering adding an inspection and enforcement regime to the current statutory basis that has required routine provision of SUDS for new development since 2006. That need, essential for ensuring features are fit for purpose, is just one of the lessons that could be taken up elsewhere too for general success and progress.
In October this year, at the SGIF conference in Glasgow, we can look forward to entertainment as well as serious consideration of the challenges in achieving multiple benefits from green infrastructure SUDS.
Openblog. 15th May 2015 www.enviroexperience.co.uk