Following a period of particularly stormy weather across the UK, Jocelyn Honeywood, Account Manager at Copper, looks at the results from our recent ‘Attitudes to infrastructure’ research in light of current events…

There’s no denying that our climate is changing. The Met Office confirmed December as both the wettest and warmest on record which begs the question, is the UK’s infrastructure ready for the increasingly wet weather?

With northern England submerged once again, Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, announced a National Flood Resilience Review to re-examine flood risk, update official ‘worst case scenario’ plans, and consider the impact of climate change.

The Government has pledged £2.3bn over the next six years for new flood defences to better protect homes from flooding. The Environment Agency is encouraging this investment, and has identified that most new defence schemes ‘reduce expected damage by £8 for every £1 spent.’[1]

Copper’s recent independent survey of attitudes to infrastructure in Great Britain revealed 51% of people thought the UK’s existing flood defences were ‘aging’ and ‘not good enough’ so the promised investment is encouraging.  The survey also highlighted people’s desire for community engagement to discuss local infrastructure needs. There is a strong case for using local knowledge when considering new developments, with around one in six people saying they’d be ‘very interested’ in being involved in discussions about the infrastructure needs in their area.

Respondents from the East Midlands showed the most concern for the current condition of Britain’s flood defences (56%) compared with London residents (38.5%), despite 1.5 million people living in the floodplain of the River Thames and its tributaries. Overall, city centre residents were less concerned about flood defences, with half as many listing it as a priority compared to those who live in towns and villages.

The highest levels of concern were from the eastern regions of the UK which were badly hit by flooding in 2013. In the North East, over 50% listed flood defences as aging/not good enough with 35% of the region listing it as one of their top priorities for investment. Eastern England was similar in its response, at 52% and 38% respectively. The conclusion could be drawn that residents are still affected by the memory of this event, citing flood defences as a top priority with more investment required.

The results also show that the majority of British people want to be involved in deciding what investment the country needs. 65% of the nation wants to be involved in plan making and only 10% has no interest. People said they want leadership from technical experts and politicians.

Referring to Copper’s ‘Attitudes to infrastructure’ report, Lord Adonis, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said, “This survey shows that the public want proper investment and planning behind world class developments. But whilst the support is there for real improvement, people rightly demand proper engagement and genuine consultation.”

To read Copper’s Attitudes to infrastructure report, please visit:   

To follow the discussion on Twitter, use the hashtag #AttitudesToInfra

[1] Source: Flooding in England: A National Assessment of Flood Risk