Engineers have called for measures to adapt to climate change to be prioritised and properly funded, following a major report that warned of 'cascading' or 'domino' risks to infrastructure.
On Tuesday (12 July) the Climate Change Committee, which provides independent advice to the Government and Parliament, published its UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report, which warned of ‘cascading infrastructure failures’ from flooding and a rise in heat-related deaths.
A spokesperson for the Institution of Civil Engineers said: ‘This report brings to the fore the scale and breadth of the challenge we face from climate change, and the need for fresh thinking on how we design and adapt our infrastructure. Clearly resilience must be at the heart of our plans - as part of that we must start to consider and manage our infrastructure networks as one interconnected system.
‘This approach would help to avoid the “domino effect” communities can experience during extreme weather - where the failure of one system such as a flood defence, causes disruption across transport, energy and water networks.’
ADEPT president Rupert Clubb
Rupert Clubb, president of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), said the report ‘highlights that urgent action is needed to make sure the country is able to face the challenges a changing climate brings’.
However, he said: ‘We are concerned that Government has cut back on adaptation support to both Defra and the Environment Agency. In light of the report findings, we believe this is a false economy.’
‘ADEPT members are ready to meet the challenges this new evidence presents, but local authorities cannot do this alone. Government must ensure adaptation is a priority across departments and is resourced appropriately. This is a long-term issue but we need to act now.’
Mr Clubb added: ‘While we understand the budget deficit needs to be plugged, we believe it has been wrong to reduce funding and resource in climate adaptation, including that for the climate ready support service.
‘The investment and commitment to improving flood defences is welcome but more needs to be done to help communities develop resilience.
‘ADEPT calls upon the new prime minister to ensure this evidence report is given due regard and the right level of resource is provided to Defra and the Environment Agency to support local authorities in reducing the risk to our infrastructure.’