Infrastructure companies report on preparations for climate change

Reports will be published today (January 28) from major infrastructure organisations on their readiness to cope with the impacts of climate change.

The reports were carried out at the request of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). In total 91 organisations will be asked to submit reports to Defra over the next year.

Environment minister Lord Henley said: "It is crucial that major organisations with key roles in keeping the country running are alive to the risks that a changing climate will have on their business, because they need to start planning for how they're going to adapt.

"Defra commissioned these reports so that we could understand how prepared the providers of key services are, and focus their minds on taking action.

"Business as usual is not an option, and planning now will prevent a lot of expense down the line when the projections of climate change become a reality. Businesses of all sizes need to assess how climate change could affect them."

Organisations who have reported back to DEFRA so far are National Grid plc (gas and electricity), the Environment Agency, Trinity Lighthouse Authority, the Highways Agency, Network Rail and Natural England.

The reports outline potential risks of climate change and the preparations the organisations are making to deal with future threats to roads, railways, energy and water supply networks.

Risks include flooding, deterioration of rail tracks and roads, gas pipe erosion leading to leaks and increased fire risk in woodland.

Among the measures to deal with the risks are investment by Network Rail in coastal flood defences and better drainage at priority locations. The company is planning to develop specific adaption strategies for each rail route.

National Grid is preparing scheme to provide additional flood defences at electricity substations and improving drilling techniques when placing gas pipes under rivers and replacing old pipes with new materials to reduce erosion.

Over the next 12 months Defra will be publishing the remaining reports from sectors including water utilities, rail companies, major airports, harbour authorities and economic regulators. Alison Brown


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