UK infrastructure at risk

13th June 2011

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Funding for local flood protection must be extended to protect infrastructure assets, warns the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) as UK energy, transport and communications companies are told to prepare for more extreme weather conditions.

In a new report, ICE argues that proposed changes in financing flood protection, which sees grants allocated according to the number of households to be protected, could lead to funding gaps, leaving infrastructure assets unprotected.

The ICE report follows publication by Defra of a new study on the importance of ensuring the UK’s infrastructure is prepared for climate change.

“Our economy cannot grow if there are repeated power failures, or goods cannot be transported because roads are flooded and railways have buckled,” said the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman.

Defra’s report – entitled Climate resilient infrastructure – calls on companies that own and operate facilities crucial to the UK’s water, energy, transport and communications network to design and locate new assets in the best way to cope with the predicted effects of climate change, as well as ensuring the improvement of existing facilities.

However, the ICE report argues the government has an equally important role in helping to protect such facilities through funding flood-protection programmes.

“The government’s new funding approach could be a very powerful tool for changing the way we fund local projects, but it is crucial that the formula is carefully designed to encourage private investment and protect our critical infrastructure,” said Dick Thomas, chair of the ICE report steering group.

The reports came as the UK’s chief inspector of nuclear installations confirmed in his interim report on the implications of the Fukushima disaster that there was a potential risk of flooding near nuclear sites.

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