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The UK’s surface water drainage rebate: Explained

UK homeowners have discovered a treasure hidden beneath their feet – the opportunity to claim a surface water drainage rebate for implementing a sustainable drainage solution. So, if you're keen to turn rainy days into a potential payday, all while protecting your property, then let's dive into the world of soakaways and drainage solutions to unlock this well-deserved reward.

What is a surface water drainage rebate?

Before we delve into the exciting world of drainage solutions, let’s clarify what the rebate is all about. This initiative, backed by the UK government, encourages you (a homeowner) to take proactive steps when it comes to managing your surface water runoff.

By implementing sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), you not only protect your property from potential flooding, but also contribute to easing the burden on overloaded public drainage systems.

Essentially, you’re eligible for any drainage rebate on any solution that ensures surface water from your property doesn’t flow into public drains.

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The secret of soakaways

Your garden is like a sponge, eagerly absorbing all the (copious amounts) of water it receives during a typical rainy day in the UK. This magical process is precisely what a soakaway accomplishes.

It’s a simple yet effective drainage solution that lets rainwater absorb into the ground naturally, replenishing groundwater reserves while preventing waterlogging on the surface.

Installing a soakaway involves digging a hole and filling it with a layer of coarse stones or gravel. The water from your roof or paved areas is then channelled into this hidden reservoir and vanishes like magic.

The result? A lush and green garden.

Water rebate for a soakaway

Homeowners can claim a rebate on the installation of a soakaway system that diverts rainwater from roofs, driveways, or paved areas into an underground reservoir, allowing it to be naturally absorbed into the ground.

domestic rainwater harvesting system in garden

Innovative drainage solutions

While soakaways are nature’s wonder, there are plenty of other innovative drainage solutions to impress even the most discerning homeowner. Let’s explore some of these methods below.

Permeable paving and surface water drainage rebate eligibility

Permeable paving mimics a dual-purpose sieve. It looks aesthetically pleasing but also allows water to pass through the surface. This stops puddles and stagnant water from forming and causing issues.

The water beneath then infiltrates the ground or gets directed towards a designated drainage system.

So, if you decide to upgrade your driveway using permeable block paving, claim a rebate for replacing traditional impermeable surfaces, like concrete or asphalt, with permeable alternatives.

Green roofs and surface water drainage rebate eligibility

If your home is a canvas, green roofs are the pièce de resisténce! These eco-friendly rooftops are adorned with vegetation, acting as a natural sponge for rainwater. Not only do they absorb water, but they also provide insulation, reduce urban heat islands, and offer a habitat for wildlife.

Claim a rebate for installing a green roof; for example, by transforming your garage roof into a green roof covered with sedum plants. Not only does it add beauty but it helps reduce the burden on the local drainage system.

Rain gardens and surface water drainage rebate eligibility

Let your garden dance in the rain! These delightful features collect and store rainwater, which give your various plants an eco-friendly water source. Not only are they visually appealing, but they also encourage biodiversity and help purify the water before it seeps into the ground.

Rainwater harvesting systems collect rainwater from roofs and other surfaces, storing it for later use. Consider a rainwater harvesting system to collect water for your garden and flush your toilets. You won’t just reduce your water bills, but you’ll also be eligible for a rebate.

Alternatively, rain gardens are designed to capture and manage rainwater runoff in an attractive and eco-friendly manner. Claim a rebate for creating rain gardens that promote biodiversity and water absorption.

Related content: Eco house design: how to create your green home.

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The path to claiming your rebate

Now you’re eager to embrace a drainage solution, let’s map out the path you need to take to claim your rebate.

Step one: Eligibility check

Make sure your property is eligible for the rebate scheme before trying to make a claim. Typically, you must be the homeowner and connected to a public sewer. However, it’s always a good idea to double-check with your local authority or water company.

Step two: Design and installation

To qualify for the rebate, your chosen drainage solutions must comply with the specific requirements set by your local water company. Work with a qualified professional to design and install the drainage system according to their regulations.

Step three: Application process

It’s time to submit your claim! So, be sure to gather all necessary documentation, including invoices and plans, and apply for the rebate through your water company’s designated channel. Patience is always a virtue here, as processing times often vary.

Step four: Reap the rewards

Once your claim is approved, you’ll unlock the rebate treasure chest and enjoy the fruits of your sustainable efforts. The amount you receive may vary, but rest assured you’ll be rewarded for your commitment to helping the environment.

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How to install water drainage solutions and their estimated costs

Installing a soakaway

Installing a soakaway requires careful planning and execution. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started:

  1. Assessment: Evaluate the best location for the soakaway. Make sure it’s at least five metres away from your home’s foundations. The ground should also have good permeability to help with water absorption.
  2. Excavation: Dig a hole to the required depth and dimensions. The size of the soakaway depends on the amount of surface water you expect to handle and your local regulations.
  3. Permeable fill: Fill the hole with a layer of permeable material like gravel or coarse stones. This acts as a reservoir, temporarily storing the rainwater until it can soak into the ground.
  4. Inlet and outlet: Connect the soakaway to the downpipes from your roof or paved surfaces using underground drainage pipes. To avoid leakage, make sure there’s proper alignment and secure connections.
  5. Cover and finish: Cover the soakaway with a permeable geotextile membrane to prevent debris from clogging the system. Then, backfill the excavation with soil and restore the surface to its original state.

Estimated cost

The cost of a standard domestic soakaway installation can range from £750 to £3k depending on factors like the size you need, your location, and the ground conditions you’re dealing with.

Read our soakaway cost guide for more information.

Installing permeable paving

Installing permeable paving involves specific techniques to allow rainwater to pass through the surface effectively.

  1. Removal of existing surface: If you have impermeable paving, you need to remove and properly dispose of it.
  2. Base preparation: Create a sub-base using a layer of aggregate. This provides structural support and allows water to pass through.
  3. Permeable pavers: Install the permeable paving blocks or materials. Make sure they’re laid correctly to help with proper water infiltration.
  4. Jointing and compaction: Use permeable jointing materials like porous sand to fill the gaps between the pavers. Compact the surface to ensure stability.

Estimated cost

The cost of permeable paving installation will vary depending on the chosen material and the size of the area you’d like paved.

However, on average, it can range from £40 to £100 per square metre.

Related content: Permeable driveway cost guide.

Installing green roofs

Creating a green roof requires careful planning. You also need to choose the right materials.

  1. Structural assessment: Make sure your roof can support the additional weight of the green roof. Seek professional advice if necessary
  2. Waterproofing and drainage layer: Install a waterproof membrane to protect your roof from water seepage. Add drainage layers to manage excess water.
  3. Growing medium: Spread a layer of growing medium suitable for sustaining plant growth.
  4. Planting: Choose appropriate vegetation that can thrive in the UK; for example, Sedum, moss, and ornamental grasses.
  5. Maintenance: Regularly maintain the green roof, including watering it and removing debris.

Estimated cost

The cost of installing a green roof ranges from £50 to £130 per square metre, depending on factors such as the complexity of the design and the choice of vegetation.

Related content: Green roof cost guide.

Installing rainwater harvesting systems

Installing a rainwater harvesting system involves several steps, outlined below:

  1. Rainwater collection: Set up gutters and downpipes to direct rainwater from your roof into a collection tank.
  2. Filtration: Install a filter system to remove debris and contaminants from the collected rainwater.
  3. Storage tank: Choose a suitable water tank size and material for storing the harvested rainwater.
  4. Pump and distribution: Install a pump to distribute the collected rainwater to the intended areas, such as the garden or for non-potable household use.

Estimated cost

The cost of a rainwater harvesting system installation varies depending on the size of the tank, the complexity of the system, and additional features like filtration. It can range from £1k to £7,250 or more.

Related content: Rainwater harvesting system cost guide.

Rain gardens

Creating a rain garden involves thoughtful planning and planting.

  1. Site selection: Identify a suitable low-lying area in your garden to collect rainwater.
  2. Excavation: Dig a shallow depression in the designated area to create the rain garden.
  3. Plant selection: Choose a variety of native plants that tolerate both wet and dry conditions. Arrange them based on their water requirements.
  4. Mulching: Apply organic mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
  5. Maintenance: Regularly water and weed the rain garden to ensure its health and functionality.

Estimated cost

The cost of establishing a rain garden can range from £500 to £2,000, depending on the size of the garden and your choice of plants.

NB: These estimated costs will vary significantly based on factors such as the size of your property, local labour rates, and the complexity of the installation.

Always contact several professionals to get accurate cost estimates. Furthermore, make sure the drainage solution you choose complies with local regulations and guidelines.

Did you find this surface water drainage rebate guide helpful? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to check out our other expert advice pieces by visiting our blog

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