Home / News & insights / News / Spotlight on UK infrastructure as climate changes

Spotlight on UK infrastructure as climate changes

Recent events at Whaley Bridge dam in Derbyshire have raised wider questions about UK infrastructure and its ability to cope with a changing climate. In response, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has issued the following statement: 

In recent weeks, the Committee on Climate Change and the Environment Agency have warned of the risks of failing to prepare for extreme weather events, which are increasingly common as our planet warms.

The threatened collapse of Whaley Bridge dam illustrates the criticality of our infrastructure assets. The emergency response in Derbyshire has been widely praised and many skilled people are working flat out to protect the community and repair the damage.

But in the future as the climate changes, we won’t be able to rely solely on emergency response to cope with extreme weather impacts. Our recent report to Parliament restated the need to prepare for extreme weather events and flooding, key climate change impacts which are becoming more commonplace. The 10 hottest years recorded in the UK have all occurred since 2002. Only last week, Britain’s homes and transport services struggled with the latest heatwave. The heavy rain that followed threw the railways in the North West into chaos.

The Government has a National Adaptation Programme but it is inadequate. The Environment Agency has published its proposed Flood Strategy. It should be supported by government and implemented in full. We must do more to prepare for climate change, while tackling its fossil-fuelled causes. The Government’s new Ministerial team has a real opportunity to demonstrate it understands this threat and step up its response.


Read the Committee’s 2019 Progress Report to Parliament and our 2017 advice to Government on the application of the ‘Adaptation Reporting Power’ in England and an associated assessment of this power.

The Adaptation Reporting Power was created as part of the Climate Change Act (2008). It allows the Secretary of State to ask key organisations to report on the steps they are taking to prepare for climate change.