Proactive steps must be taken if the UK’s infrastructure is to remain resilient against climate change and other challenges, the National infrastructure Commission (NIC) has said.
On 28 May, it published a report, Anticipate, React, Recover: Resilience infrastructure systems, in which it said that the major floods and worst power cut for a decade over the past year, while localised in the case of the former and short-term in the case of the latter, had served as a warning of the potential future disruption that could await. Chair of the NIC, Sir John Armitt, warned that energy networks and water utilities, communications, transport, and other essential services are all at risk. The report highlighted six key areas of resilience – anticipate, resist, absorb, recover, adapt, and transform – and said that a framework for resilience that improves the approach to each of them is needed.
Based on this, it made a series of recommendations for government, including that it introduces a statutory requirement by 2022 for secretaries of state to publish a full set of resilience standards every five years, along with an assessment of any changes needed to deliver them. It further set out that infrastructure operators should carry out regular and proportionate stress tests to ensure infrastructure services can meet the standards, while by 2023, regulators should introduce obligations on operators to develop and maintain long long-term resilience strategies themselves. By 2024 at the latest, regulators should ensure the first round of new stress tests are complete.
Commission Chair, Sir John Armitt said: “To safeguard the systems our communities rely on, everyone involved in running infrastructure needs to anticipate and prepare for potential future challenges. The framework proposed in our report offers the tools to face uncomfortable truths, value resilience properly, test for vulnerabilities and drive adaptation before it is too late.”