Chris Harrop looks at the implications of increasingly rainy weather
Weather predictions are never easy – ask the many embarrassed weathermen about their famous blunders. However, what we know for sure is that in the UK, Autumn brings us rain – and alongside extreme weather patterns, heavy rain is another manifestation of this country’s evidence of global climate change.
When there’s heavy rainfall, our drainage systems take the brunt of the damage and none of us need reminding about the devastating effects of flooding. Earlier this year, at long last, the last Government took a good look at water management with the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, which sets out to ‘provide better, more comprehensive management of flood risk for people, homes and businesses.’
This is a welcome move, but it’s not enough.
At micro level, the Act means that consumers must either get permeable paving for their front gardens and driveways or they have to get planning permission. For those heading for permeable paving or SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems), there’s a good deal of choice for consumers.
Marshalls and other manufacturers have now developed good ranges of permeable paving products. We’ve trained our Marshalls Register members on how to install permeable paving properly and our unique design makes installation that much more straightforward for the experienced installer.
But it’s not just the legislation or the ways we install our paving that concerns me most. If we don’t manage water well, we’re wasting our opportunity to protect one of our most precious resources.
Bad water management and flooding cost this country billions of pounds. Climate change shows us the extent of potential damage caused by extreme weather, unusual seasonal changes and heavy rain that leads to flooding. The latter is having an especially major impact on drainage systems which cannot be ignored.
In terms of biodiversity, flooding and non-use of SUDS are extremely detrimental. The loss of clean water, which may seem like a distant issue for us now, will cost us dear – not just environmentally, but financially too.
Though legislation is driving the SUDS process, it’s up to the construction industry to make the change to SUDS as easy for consumers as possible. And the only way we can do that is by providing our customers with information on permeable paving. By understanding how permeable paving works, getting training and using the right products in the right way, merchants and installers can stop uninformed ‘cowboys’ installing paving badly.
At Marshalls, we aim to continue this debate to ensure that better water management remains a priority for merchants, builders and manufacturers alike. We need to play our part because there are simply too many national and global factors that will ensure we pay the price for not acting faster on how we deal with water.
Chris Harrop is group marketing director of Marshalls www.marshalls.co.uk