Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk – more action needed to enhance the resilience of our water environment

JBA has achieved a lot in our 27 years in business.  Looking forward, there is much though that we have yet to do.   We recognise the challenges that climate change brings and that there is a need to continually evolve, innovate and develop new approaches to help increase the UK’s resilience and adaptation to the impacts of climate change.  We will do this by continuing to employ and nurture the best talent, by working collaboratively and in partnership with others, and by supporting, and investing ourselves, in the latest science and research.  We welcome the findings of the Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk, which gives renewed focus on the challenges ahead and the steps we collectively have to take in order to address them.   Jeremy Benn, Executive Chairman JBA Group.

The Independent Assessment provides comprehensive evidence that more needs to be done to address climate change across the UK, with flooding, coastal change and water scarcity highlighted as particular threats.  Potential damage to infrastructure, as well as our communities, natural environment, cultural heritage and businesses are all highlighted.

Marc Pinnell, Managing Director, JBA Consulting shares his reflections on the role JBA is playing in helping to manage the particular impacts of flooding.

There is much that JBA is engaged in, in support of addressing the nation’s climate emergency, including helping to manage the particular impacts of flooding.  However there is much more for us to do, in order to deliver “a nation ready for, and resilient to, flooding and coastal change – today, tomorrow and to the year 2100” as set out in the National Flood Risk Management Strategy for England, and in the similar aspirations of each of the devolved administrations.

The emphasis in the Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk is the need to focus on adaptation in order to cope with the practical consequences of climate change on our environment, our economy and the way we live our lives.  The report identifies the risks and opportunities to do so, but alarmingly the increasing gap between the level of risk faced and the level of adaptation underway.

JBA is committed to supporting our clients in reducing this gap

To redouble efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change and to make our communities, businesses and nation more resilient. There is great opportunity through the projects we work on and the clients we support to make a real difference working at JBA.

At JBA, we work closely with Risk Management Authorities, from across the UK, to help address the challenges and impacts of climate change.  Our expertise in climate science, flood modelling, risk assessment and strategy development has long been called upon.  We have become synonymous with the understanding of risk, how to identify it and how to quantify it.

In recent years we’ve broadened our capabilities and are now seen as a leading contributor to the provision of solutions too.  Our expertise in emergency planning, flood forecasting and warning, the design and delivery of flood risk management schemes is also now called upon to help address the impacts of climate change across the UK.

Working with the Environment Agency

We assisted the Environment Agency secure their target to better protect over 300,000 homes in England from the risk of flooding during the last comprehensive spending review period.  For example, in delivering upgrade and refurbishment of major infrastructure such as the Foss Barrier and Bentley Ings pumping station we helped reduce flooding to around 1200 residential properties in York and 3000 properties from the River Don respectively.  At Bentley Ings we were pleased, through our design, to be able to increase pumping capacity by 20% whilst also securing carbon savings of between 38% and 99% on elements such as foundation and culvert construction.

Our expertise continues to support major habitat creation projects and nature based solutions also – increasing biodiversity and mitigating the impacts of climate change.  JBA is leading the design and construction of the Environment Agency’s Skeffling Managed Realignment Scheme – a scheme to create 250ha of compensatory habitat on the Humber estuary.  Construction began in May 2021.  We are supporting the Environment Agency deliver similar projects across the south-east as well, including locations in the western Solent and Chichester Harbour.

Our work with the UK Met Office, through the Climate Resilience Programme, is identifying and developing the best climate information required for decision making and we are working with the Environment Agency to identify how best to measure changes in flooding and coastal change resilience.  Such research will be a key asset for decision makers within the flood risk management  and wider sectors.

A shining example as to where the information arising will be critical to future climate adaption decisions is the Environment Agency’s  Thames Estuary 2100 Plan.  The Plan is internationally recognised as a leading example of climate change adaptation.  It is designed to be adaptable to different projections for climate change and sea level rise.  JBA is supporting the Environment Agency in undertaking its 10-year review of the Plan.  We are providing technical assessment and specialist advice on aspects as wide ranging as policy appraisal, benefits management, economics, and asset investment planning.

Enhancing the nation’s resilience

Across the UK we are engaged in similar projects and initiatives supporting national, local and government agencies to enhance the nation’s resilience.  In Scotland we have been supporting the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in its delivery of national mapping and forecasting projects to better understand the risk of flooding, and Scottish local authorities in the delivery of flood risk management schemes to better protect communities.  We have worked closely with other organisations too, as diverse as the NHS estate and whiskey distillers, in order to assess and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.  In Wales, we are supporting Welsh Government in implementing its Coastal Risk Management Programme, a £150m investment programme to reduce coastal flood and erosion risk, including major projects in Cardiff, Mumbles, Prestatyn and Rhyl.  Central to delivery of these schemes is the integration of the Well-being of Future Generations Act which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change.   In Northern Ireland, we have provided support to the Department for Infrastructure to develop the consultation Flood Risk Management Plan.

The nature of the challenge, but also the opportunity to improve resilience, is summarised in all of the projects we work on at JBA.  Publication of the latest climate risk assessment gives us new motivation and new commitment to be at the vanguard of the nation’s response.  At JBA, everyone has the opportunity to make a difference.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about our work please look in our case study section of the website or you can contact us here.

You can find out more information on our climate resilience webpage or email Rachel Brisley, JBA Climate Resilience Lead.

The final reports are available at: www.theccc.org.uk (advice report) and www.ukclimaterisk.org (technical report and supporting information)



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