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Energy infrastructure at 'significant' risk of flooding

Energy infrastructure is under significant threat from flooding, partly induced by climate change, and a National Adaptation Programme (NAP) is vital to overcoming its vulnerability, the government said yesterday.

Speaking at the launch of the Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) report and development of the NAP, environment secretary Caroline Spelman said that the concerns over energy infrastructure, as well as other infrastructure, needed to be addressed.

The comments come a few months after the Weightman review of the UK nuclear industry following the Japanese Fukushima disaster. In October, that report concluded that flooding risks are “unlikely” to prevent construction of new nuclear power stations over the next few years and that there was no need to change the present siting strategies for such schemes.

Spelman said that while the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was not the lead department for creating all the adaptation plans, it would be working closely with the Department for Energy and Climate Change to “co-create the solutions that have been more accurately assessed” in the CCRA.

Defra chief scientific adviser Professor Sir Bob Watson said that flooding was the “most dominant” issue arising from climate change.

Climate Change Risk Assessment report

Threats to buildings and infrastructure from climate change

Increased flooding may affect a significant proportion of buildings and infrastructure.
Increased summer temperatures may affect conditions in buildings and the urban environment and may lead to heat related damage and/or disruption to energy and transport networks.
The Urban Heat Island effect may become more common and more significant in large cities and may increase demand for cooling.
Changes in water availability,particularly reductions in the summer, without intervention may lead to a need for demand control measures, affecting the public, businesses and industry.
Increased subsidence and landslip in some areas may affect sections of the transport network and buildings.

Opportunities from climate change

Milder winters may reduce demand for heating, reducing costs for businesses and the public, and reducing carbon emissions. In the long-term, milder winters may reduce cold weather related damage, delays and disruption and associated costs for infrastructure providers, businesses and the public (although the natural variability in the weather will mean that extreme events will still occur).
There may be further opportunities for innovative building services and urban planning in the UK and overseas, for example in the design of sustainable buildings and developments.
UK based infrastructure operators, consultancies and investors may have opportunities to capitalise on global climate change adaptation activity.

 

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