Climate Adaptation in Practice

Working with Our Clients

HTMA Members are already actively supporting our clients to adapt the highways networks for community safety now and for the future. Our members have been instrumental in assisting the HA in formulating a management approach and assisting local authorities to understand the impacts of climate change on their communities.
We proactively seek opportunities to support our clients in increasing the resilience of our networks against the negative effects of a changing climate. We encourage the engagement of local and national stakeholders in this challenging agenda.

National Climate Change Risk Assessment

The national Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) analysed 100 potential impacts of climate change to 11 sectors. This included transport, highlighting flooding, landslides, heat damage and bridge scour as important risks. It also identified systematic risks from other infrastructure such as damage to electricity networks.

Prioritisation of Community Risk

When assessing and addressing risks it’s important to understand both the topographical and community big picture.
It is no longer acceptable to concentrate on the minutiae of the highway fabric, but rather a view also needs to be taken on the community services that the highway serves.   There is little point spending time and money assessing risks to a part of the network that serves very few and no strategic infrastructure points (i.e. Sewage facilities, power stations etc)
So the best piece of advice we can give is make sure the people that know and have pride in the social performance of each part of the network being assessed, are properly involved and consulted as stakeholders in the risk assessment process.

For further information:
UKCIP’s Local Climate Impacts Profile (LCLIP) tool
Creating and Managing Resilient Local Highways – Climate UK (Example regional approach)

HTMA Recommends

We recommend that the following steps be taken as a matter of priority, to help appreciate and understand the impact of climate change on highways maintenance:

  • Understand the opportunities and risks to communities and their support services which are dependent on the network
  • Evaluate the opportunities and risks to the networks and its users using HACCRA.
  • Understand headline opportunities and risks, which include:
  1. Loss of the structural integrity of highway surfaces in increased operating temperatures
  2. Damage to highway structures during intense precipitation and consequential flooding
  3. Damage to highway structures from a temperature range that exceeds designed performance requirements
  4. Heightened wind speed and changed wind patterns.
  5. Drier weather may allow using alternative products that could increase whole life cycle of highways road surfaces.
  • Evaluate the probability of the opportunities and risks occurring together with the likely costs or savings of repairing damage and/or managing the events proactively.
  • Investigate adaptation measures and adopt a response that balances appropriately the costs of risk with the cost of implementation and any opportunities for savings. Adaptation measure that can be applied include:
  1. Ensuring all current work activities do not compromise drainage capacity.
  2. Asset investment decision making based on whole life cost that includes climate risk (low cost)
  3. Actively invest in highway drainage to increase capacity and resilience to intense precipitation (medium cost)
  4. Flood protection around key trunk roads and interchanges (high cost)
  5. Maintenance renewal programmes that promote greater whole life cycle considerations (low cost).
  6. Verge maintenance programme lengthening intervals between swathe cuts, thus reducing costs.

Climate Change Adaptation in Context

The Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) is contextually setting the scene for whole life in terms of enhanced Asset Management Process. This work is being augmented by the Institution of Civil Engineers, which in turn is being supported by an enhanced provision of information from CIRIA, through easy access materials. All of which is supported by Engineering for the Future.

In addition, Action for Roads was published by the Department of Transport.

It will rapidly become clear that those authorities that do not take action to change, will find the challenge to afford managing their own highways becoming tougher.

National Adaptation Programme

In response to the Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) the Government published the National Adaptation Programme (NAP) which sets out what government, businesses, and society are doing to tackle the risks identified in the CCRA.


At present you don’t have to formally report if you are a local authority. This is under review by central government. Local Authorities previously reported Climate Change Adaption performance via the NI188 but the Government abolished the National Indicator performance framework in 2010.

The Adaptation Reporting Power allows the Government to direct certain organisations to submit a report on their climate risks. The Government’s view is that Authorities should be managing this issue as a matter of course to minimise damage costs impact on their budgets both now and in the future.