The UK’s largest engineering design consultancy Atkins today welcomed the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s decision to fund critical cross-sector research into how climate change could impact the UK’s infrastructure and committed its time and expertise to ensure the research project is a success.
The £6.1 million funding announcement comes just weeks after a hard-hitting report from the Committee on Climate Change, which warned that the UK is ill prepared to meet the challenge of more extreme weather events caused by climate change.
The Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC), a world-leading team of engineers and scientists coordinated by Newcastle University, will carry out fundamental research to ensure a sustainable infrastructure for the UK, which is particularly vulnerable due to the interdependence of its energy, transport, telecommunications, water and waste networks.
The consortium will analyse the range of potential climate change risks and identify ways in which we can protect our infrastructure against potential meltdown and continue to meet the ambitious carbon reduction targets to which the UK has already committed, including reducing carbon emissions 34% by 2020.
Atkins’ climate change consultant Geoff Darch, who is coordinating input from a range of experts across Atkins, including transport modellers and energy engineers, said: “The ITRC will provide a multidisciplinary approach to climate change research and modelling, which is key for a thorough understanding of asset resilience and flood risk to critical infrastructure.
“We need to better understand the greatest risks across all our infrastructure networks, particularly to our long life assets such as water treatment works and the road network, so that we can continue to design effective resilience strategies and business continuity plans.
“The impacts of climate change at a high level are reasonably well understood but we need a much deeper understanding of the range of impacts and how we can adapt existing infrastructure and design new assets to endure changes to our weather. The ITRC will draw on expertise across a range of sectors to understand how the UK’s infrastructure will cope with future climate change scenarios.”
It is the first time a project of this scale, which is also backed by a further £1.6million from industry, has been undertaken and the team hopes it will become a vital tool to inform and assist the development of sustainable infrastructure systems across the globe.