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Climate change highways guidance

There are some key documents on climate changes and highways that are worth consulting, these include:

Maintaining Pavements in a Changing Climate

Sustainable highways: A short guide

The effects of climate change on highway pavements and how to minimise them

 Climate change flooding picture

What action should be taken?

Under localism and given their statutory duties and powers, local authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have an important role in helping communities prepare for climate change.

Using planning and other policy levers they should ensure that local buildings and infrastructure are resilient to increased risk of flooding, storms, heat stress etc. Other community leadership responsibilities include managing and extending natural resources to promote biodiversity and reduce flood risk, minimising economic risks whilst maximising any economic opportunities and protecting the local population from any detrimental health impacts of a changing climate.

The Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC), an independent statutory body whom advise Government on climate change, produced a report How local authorities’ can reduce emissions and manage climate risk  which identifies the main opportunities local authorities have to increase the resilience of major infrastructure and services in their localities.

As the highway authority, local authorities are responsible for the construction and maintenance of non-trunk roads (representing 98% of all roads), cycle ways, street lighting, bridges and structures and other highway assets. Increasing resilience to extreme weather and climate change should be part of their capital and maintenance programmes where this is cost effective. Also, in their role of Lead Local Flood Authority, the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 provides powers to carry out works to manage flood risk from surface runoff and groundwater.

Land use planning is one of the most important functions delivered by local government. Planning decisions can directly help to increase resilience to climate risks, but could also lock future generations into a development pathway that increases vulnerability or one that will be very costly to maintain or reverse. By taking a strategic approach to land use planning local authorities can:
•    Minimise flood risk - by avoiding inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding by directing it away from areas of highest risk. Local authorities should also reduce the risk from coastal change by avoiding inappropriate development in vulnerable areas.
•    Plan and deliver green infrastructure - green infrastructure (trees, parks, open space etc) is important because it can help to keep cities cool in the summer, provide drainage routes for surface water and provide pathways through the urban environment for biodiversity to migrate as the climate changes.
•    Plan and deliver Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) - SuDS such as permeable surfaces, swales, wetlands and ponds can play an important role in managing local flood risk in urban areas since they replicate natural surface water drainage systems.