Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has warned that “urgent action” is required to protect national infrastructure which the economy relies upon from the effects of extreme weather.

Her department has launched a cross-government report to look at the potential threat across various infrastructure sectors, including waste.

According to the report, planning and design will need to take into account the impact which climate change will have on essential services such as power supplies – for example, energy-from-waste plants.

Spelman said: “£200bn is expected to be invested in the UK’s infrastructure over the next five years. But if the facilities which support our society cannot cope with floods, droughts, or freezing winters then that money will have been wasted.”

She continued: “Infrastructure assets often have lives of at least 50-100 years so they need to be designed to function long into the future when the climate is projected to be very different.”

The Climate Resilient Infrastructure report outlines the challenges to the energy, water, transport, and ICT sectors. It also sets out what action needs to be taken by infrastructure owners and operators, regulators, insurers and government.

The study recommends that owners and operators of infrastructure should include measures to improve climate resilience in the maintenance schedules for their assets, and ensure climate impacts are considered in the design of new infrastructure.

It also calls for potential infrastructure investors to demand more information from companies on the climate risks to their assets and measures taken to reduce them as part of their ‘due diligence’ processes.

The report will feed into the Government’s next updates of its national infrastructure plan.

Maxine Perella

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