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PPS 15: Planning and Flood Risk
Annex A: Climate Change

A9 Global temperature has risen by about 0.6 of a degree Celsius over the last 100 years and Government has recently concluded that much of the warming seen in the last 50 years is likely to have been caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases due to human activities.
A10 In the UK average temperatures have risen by a similar amount in the last century. In central England for example, the average recorded rise has been close to 1 degree Celsius. Furthermore, it is expected that some degree of further climate change is inevitable with much of the change over the next 40 years already determined by past and present emissions of greenhouse gases and the inertia of the climate system.
A11 The potential impacts of climate change during the next 30 to 80 years have been estimated by UKCIP Opens link in a new browser window, the United Kingdom Climate Impacts Programme10. UKCIP 02 (2002) provides the current climate change scenarios recommended for use by Government for the assessment of climate change impacts. In the context of assessing flood risk the key results are:
  • the UK climate will11 become warmer;
  • winters will become wetter and summers may become drier everywhere;
  • heavy winter rain and snow will become more frequent;
  • relative sea level will continue to rise around most of the UK shoreline; and
  • extreme sea levels will be experienced more frequently.
A12 The UKCIP 02 scenarios replace those of UKCIP 98 and give a more comprehensive analysis of predicted changes the results of which can be attributed a higher level of confidence. While they confirm general trends identified by the earlier report they refine and update predicted impacts, for example, the increase in frequency of heavy rainfall days is less marked in the new scenarios but remains substantial.
A13 The SNIFFER Opens link in a new browser window (Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research) Report 'Implications of Climate Change for Northern Ireland: Informing Development Strategy' identifies a similar set of climate change scenarios derived from the UKCIP and interpreted for the Region. The Report predicts that Northern Ireland will experience warmer, wetter and windier weather in the future. By the 2080's annual precipitation could increase by up to 13% with winter enhancement of up to 22%. Daily precipitation intensities are expected to increase both in summer and winter and while overall the frequency of gales may decline, winter storms of greater severity are expected to increase.
A14 While flood damage is primarily a consequence of previous decisions on the location and nature of human settlement and land use it is widely believed that man-induced climate change will negatively influence flood behaviour. Climate changes like those identified above by UKCIP and the SNIFFER Report reinforce this perception. These reports are broadly supported by the Final Report on Climate Change of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland (2002)12 and the significance of changes in climate in influencing flooding highlighted by the Foresight Report on Future Flooding published by the Office of Science and Technology Opens link in a new browser window (2004).13
A15 Recent flooding events in Northern Ireland have not been on the scale of those experienced in England and Scotland but they have raised concerns about the impact of a changing climate in the Region. The Government has, in its recently published UK programme for climate change,14 set out policies and priorities for action on climate change in the UK and globally. In Northern Ireland such actions include the exercise of greater control over development at risk from flooding through the policies set out in this Statement.
A16 While the inundation of large areas by the sea is not common in Northern Ireland sea level rise occurring as a result of the warmer climate and tidal surges from more frequent storms is also expected to increase the risk of flooding in low lying open coasts and estuaries.
A17 Increased flooding in Northern Ireland carries the potential for wide ranging effects on the Region's physical and social infrastructure, transport, energy provision, tourism, built environment, agriculture and biodiversity with flood risk, both perceived and real, touching on issues of health, economic development, environment and social well being.
A18 Impacts on one sector will have effects in others, and effective responses to mitigate and manage these impacts need to acknowledge and address the interconnected nature of the environment in which they operate. The role of the land use planning process in managing flood risk may therefore require trans-boundary consultation on occasion.
10 The UK Climate Impacts programme (UKCIP) is based at the University of Oxford and funded by Defra to co-ordinate assessment of how climate change will affect the UK. Information is available at www.ukcip.org.uk and see also www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/index.htm
11 The word 'will' is used where UKCIP reports have a high level of confidence about an outcome
12 Available at www.epa.ie
13 Foresight Programme Report on Future Flooding (OST) (3 Vols) (2004) available at www.dti.gov.uk Opens link in a new browser window
14 Climate Change - The UK Programme 2006 (TSO) (2006)
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