Climate change will hit a large number of vital sectors - water, health, ecosystems, planning and infrastructure, the Government warned today. Climate Change and Environment Minister Ian Pearson welcomed the results of a �400,000 research programme which looked at a range of specific interests, including tourism, planning, land use and the built environment, business, water resources and the countryside and rural economy.

Mr Pearson said it brought the Government closer to understanding the enormous range of impacts climate change will have across different sectors and areas of the UK and the depth of further work needed to develop full adaptation policies.

The Minister said the projects had shown that climate change was often not the primary driver for changes in behaviour and that any successful adaptation policy needed to consider this. But they had also shown that in rural areas diversifying economies will help reduce vulnerability to climate change.

He said: "Organisations including my Department, local authorities, tourist boards, water companies and the farming sector will all benefit from these important projects which will help us plan for and adapt to climate change. "Adaptation is occurring and awareness is increasing on the need to adapt to climate change and the fact that costs from climate change will hit across a large number of sectors including water, infrastructure, health, ecosystems and planning.

"The studies will add to the evidence base which is needed to design effective adaptation responses at a national. local and regional level."

Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth said: "As usual, the Government is giving us endless consultations instead of targeted action.

"We already know that the costs of climate change are likely to be large and that some measure of adaptation will be necessary. What we don't know is what, if anything, the Government is going to do about it. "We need to inject accountability into our climate change programmes, which is precisely why we are pressing the Government for a Climate Change Bill in the next session of Parliament."

The key findings are: A pilot project carried out by Sustainability North West, looked at the effects of climate change and tourism in the region. It found that extreme weather conditions linked to anticipated climate change scenarios, was likely to lead to an increase in erosion in the Lake District National Park, along with higher visitor numbers.

The risk of fire in the Peak District is set to rise during hotter, drier summers, but that generally at present other factors were more likely to affect tourist numbers than climate change.

The business project: This was carried out by Risk Solutions and looked at the potential impacts of climate change on supermarkets and the rail industry.

The study found that climate change was not generally accounted for in supermarkets policy and was perceived as having little impact in the short term. However, producers faced far greater stresses and needed to at least look at the potential of diversification into new cropping regimes as well as facing up to new pests and diseases and strains on water reserves.

Railway sector: In the railway sector the report stressed the industry was at risk from extreme weather patterns which could cause rails to buckle, points to fail and flooding to wash out routes. At present the regulated nature of investment in the industry, and a focus on cost reduction, makes consideration of climate change in decision making by Network Rail, train operators and rolling stock providers, very difficult. In both industries, lack of specific information about the likely impacts to their businesses, at a localised level, is also a barrier to decision-making.

Water project: This was carried out by HR Wallingford Ltd and showed that climate change will have a significant impact on water resources available for water supply, agriculture and the environment over the next 30-100 years. Although climate change is already included in current water company plans, the project team recommended refinements to a range of policies related to water resources planning, drought planning and land use planning. There will be a significant increase in severe single season droughts across the UK and there will be changes in the nature of multi season droughts, such as the current drought in the South East of England, by the 2050s. In future, consecutive dry winters like 2004/5 and 2005/6 will be accompanied by much drier summers presenting a more significant threat to public water supplies. Consideration of climate change should be central to the implementation of the new statutory water resources plans, drought plans and the Water Framework Directive.

Rural Project: This was carried out by Land Use consultants in Glasgow, and suggested that many currently prosperous rural communities could in the future be at greater risk as a result of climate change, whilst some peripheral rural areas that are already reliant on limited economic sectors, could become even more fragile in the future. It urged Government policy makers to consider how adaptation could be integrated across all rural policy areas. It suggested that adaptation could be a useful tool for delivering aspirations for rural and farm diversification and advised a cautious approach to promoting tourism in areas that are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Climate change needs to be mainstreamed into all aspects of rural planning - including transport, tourism, affordable housing and biodversity protection, in order to ensure adaptation forms part of integrated and sustainable rural development. Planning and built environment project: Land Use Consultants in London considered the effects climate change would have for development in the growth areas of the south east of England.

Metroeconomica carried out a study of the costs and benefits of climate change associated with different sectors. This is one of the first studies to apply costing methods to sectors on a microscale. A range of costs were found associated with summer deaths, flooding and infrastructure damage, though some benefits were also perceived with increased tourism, reduced winter heating bills and reduced winter deaths. The study also attempted to compare costs of the 2003 and 1995 hot summers.

The Tyndall Centre with Cranfield and Southampton Universities produced a literature review of adaptation actions that are already happening in the UK and an associated database of examples. It said adaptation is occurring, awareness is increasing but greater co-ordination of actions is required, particularly through new Government policies.