Last November the UK was hit by Storm Arwen, with freak conditions felling trees, bringing down power lines and cutting off millions of homes and a number of our remote air traffic surveillance and communications sites.

As climate change continues to make its presence felt, and events like Storm Arwen become more regular and severe, we need to embed climate resilience into our facilities and operations.  In total we operate 300 buildings, radars and air traffic control towers in different locations and conditions, often on hills or in other places exposed to the weather. These sites are vital to keeping our skies safe and efficient.

Today, as part of the Climate Change Act 2008, we have submitted a climate risk and adaptation progress report to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The report summarises our progress towards identifying and assessing climate risks to the critical national infrastructure we manage, and what we will do now and into the future to increase our resilience to severe weather events.

We have identified nine physical climate risks based on the latest climate scenarios pointing to increased warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers along with an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. The report provides the main physical hazards from an air traffic perspective and provides an assessment of the risks we face in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

We are already preparing for some of these. Since 2016, we have had a UK Met Office team embedded at our Control Centre in Swanwick allowing for proactive forecasting on adverse weather that could affect the operation.  They are providing invaluable data for our operation and engineers.

We continuously maintain and improve both proactive and reactive controls across the operation and our estate. More recently, we have been working closely with partners to develop and prioritise a comprehensive list of controls and actions to mitigate risks and incorporate these into our business and planning. We are also embedding climate risk evaluation and adaptation throughout our organisation and decision making.

As an owner and operator of critical national infrastructure, we are taking the risk from climate change seriously. The reports published today by DEFRA are a milestone on this journey. We will continue to work closely with customers, suppliers and our regulator to improve the resilience of the sector and manage this risk.

Read our report here.


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