8 July 2016
BIRMINGHAM - PBA Birmingham’s first breakfast seminar this morning heard from Partners Tim Allen and Paul Jenkin on the challenges of climate change for built environment practitioners.
An audience of senior public and private sector professionals had the opportunity to learn about the latest scientific thinking and projections on climate issues, as well as gaining an overview of the latest EA guidance on allowing for climate change when considering flood risk.
Tim presented the World Economic Forum’s global risk factors for 2016, and pointed out that failure to deal with mitigating climate change was, for the first time, the No.1 risk in terms of potential impact were it to occur – and that the top three most likely risks related to climate change issues.
Paul Jenkin outlined the new EA guidance on factors to be used in assessing flood risk for new development. Although the new system is more sophisticated, making allowance for specific river basins and regional differences, and also providing different factors for different time horizons and risk levels, Paul pointed out that this created uncertainty and the potential for inconsistency in the approaches that were taken across the country.
He also cast doubt on whether some of the more extreme factors could realistically be expected to occur, as they would pre-suppose truly biblical levels of rainfall intensity that seemed improbable. Nevertheless, there is a need for developers and practitioners to be conscious of the need to engage early with the relevant authorities and to seek to test and agree the best parameters in each case.
In a lively series of questions and comments at the end of the session, we explored whether Birmingham was a Biophilic City, whether there was genuine buy-in to the environmental agenda by politicians and more widely amongst regional stakeholders, and whether there was merit in seeking to “green” existing places, with retrofitting measures being far more cost effective than simply applying measures to new builds.
The next seminar will be held in October.