IN A year which has seen New Orleans wrecked by Hurricane Katrina, the eradication of entire Guatamalan villages by mudslides, all-consuming wildfires in southern Europe and the inundation of Boscastle, few now deny the threat to the built environment posed by climate change.
Engineers are realising their schemes have to be much more resilient to extremes of weather and much better planned.
'We have to factor climate change into all our standards and approaches to engineering, ' emphasises Environment Agency climate change policy manager Merylyn Hedger. Documents such as Making space for water, from the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), set out the imperative of building with climate change in mind, 'but it's difficult to know how much cash to commit now without ending up with projects that are realised much earlier than needed', she admits.
Hedger should be able to throw some light on this and other issues when she gives the keynote address at the morning session of the environment day at Civils 2005. She will also take part in a panel discussion.
A key issue to be addressed at the conference will be floodplain development under Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) 25. The document is being reviewed but will explain how flood risk should be considered during project planning and construction to reduce future damage to property and potential loss of life. The guidance also takes climate change into account.
Other pressures on engineering development arise from the European Water Framework Directive. Linda Aucott, head of engineering policy at DEFRA's fl management division, will discuss government policy for flood risk management and how the WFD affects planning.