Paved driveways could be banned in an effort to ease floodwaters and river pollution.
The Government is looking into new rules that would see the driveways of new build homes limited on what materials they can use on their surfaces.
Water minister Rebecca Pow told The Telegraph new developments could have to prove they have sustainable drainage systems before they are allowed to connect to local sewage networks.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
Why would the new rules be introduced?
The new measures are being considered in an effort to stop storm drainage systems becoming overwhelmed and diverting sewage into local rivers.
“There’s a lot of water getting down into our drains and getting muddled up with the sewage that doesn’t need to be there,” said Pow.
She said the Government was acting “as fast as we possibly can” on what she said had been a hidden problem before water companies began monitoring their storm overflows in the last five years.
“Whilst you could say the situation is not where we’d like it to be, I’m really pleased and proud that I’m there as the water minister driving this on,” she said. “We’ve literally prioritised this more than it’s ever been prioritised.”
In Pow’s constituency, the River Tone has been found to have unacceptable levels of chemical pollution, while the nearby Somerset Levels have been plagued by phosphate pollution as a result of agricultural runoff.
What could change?
Under the new rules being considered, new developments could have to prove they have sustainable drainage systems before they are allowed to connect to local sewage networks in order to avoid them becoming overwhelmed and pumping sewage into rivers.
That is likely to include restrictions on solid paved driveways, as well as the possible introduction of ponds to allow water to soak into the ground rather than run off into drains where it can cause sewage systems to overflow.
Pow told The Telegraph: “We need to have semi-permeable membranes on our driveways, rather than Tarmac, so that rainwater doesn’t rush away but soaks in.”
There is also some suggestion that major housing developments should have to invest in new sewage infrastructure to avoid overloading the existing network.
It’s unclear how much power Pow has as a junior minister in implementing any changes.
The existing provisions in the Environment Bill, secured only after a U-turn prompted by a rebellion by 22 Tory MPs, have been dismissed as inadequate by river pollution groups.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, NationalWorld