Ensuring Resilience in a Changing Climate

24th Nov 2022

Industry leader UKRLG will investigate how to tackle the effects of climate change and reduce disruption on our roads

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Winter Gritter:  Shutterstock Image

Winter Gritter: Shutterstock Image

The term ‘resilience’ is often associated with winter service operations, but it has an extensive meaning. The breadth of its focus is reflected in the fact that the word ‘resilience’ appears 79 times in the UKRLG’s Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure code of practice.

The guide defines resilience as per the Cabinet Office’s definition: “The ability of the community, services, area or infrastructure to detect, prevent and, if necessary, to withstand, handle and recover from disruptive challenges.”

The Transport Resilience Review, published in 2014, noted that there was a need to ensure “that enough is invested, with the right prioritisation, and avoiding wasteful and economically unjustified expenditure”.

In 2022, the UKRLG changed its name to UK Roads Leadership Group and updated the vision and mission of the group. This reflects how the group provides professional direction and leadership for the management, operation, investment, adaptation, renewal and resilience of our roads and highway networks and associated assets by, among other things, contributing to tackling the climate emergency and achieving net zero.

Climate change and resilience are inextricably linked. In 2008/09, the UK experienced the heaviest snowfall in 18 years, putting increased pressure on salt stocks to keep roads open.

The following winter period – 2009/10 – brought another period of heavy snowfall and travel disruptions. This year, there have been periods of extreme heat and wildfires, with damage caused to roads from bitumen melting in the high temperatures.

The review following the storms of 2009/10 recommended the National Winter Service Research Group (NWSRG) be brought under the wing of the UKRLG. In 2021 the NWSRG published the final section of its comprehensive Practical Guide on Winter Service (which is freely available for highway authorities).

There are plans under way to create a new Board on Climate Change (and wider environmental impacts) within UKRLG to find ways to address and overcome these issues. However, when faced with a changing climate, future spending reviews may require more investment to ensure our transport networks are resilient to the challenges ahead – and across all seasons.


Be ready for emergencies

For further guidance read Hugh Deeming’s technical report at bit.ly/Emergency_preparedness

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