Last week’s poll: UK infrastructure and extreme weather

Temperatures across western Europe hit an all-time high this summer, including in the UK where a record-breaking 38.7oC brought severe disruption to parts of the rail network.

infrastructure

Rail services were cancelled or run at restricted speed to prevent tracks buckling in the heat, but this anomaly was soon superseded by heavy rain that led to the Whaley Bridge dam crisis and yellow wind warnings issued across large swathes of the nation.

This volatile mix of weather, and its impact on the nation’s infrastructure, prompted last week’s poll which saw 42 per cent of respondents agreeing that there needs to be a complete overhaul of ageing infrastructure, followed by 28 per cent who think there should be more focused maintenance efforts. Of the remainder, just under a quarter (24 per cent) thought that technology – we suggested things like sensors, robotics and AI – should be used to mitigate risks, and the remaining six per cent opted for ‘none of the above’.

In the comments that followed, Chris Oates-Miller said: “If the predictions on weather are correct then basic maintenance will not be enough to stem the tide (sorry) of higher rainfall, hotter summers etc. The current housing plan for the UK should be scrapped as we will need the green space to act as flood plains and the trees to soak up CO2, houses and patios don’t do this!”

“Obviously the Best Way is a complete overhaul,” added Sandy. “Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world with endless resources. Our primary targets should always be those which put life at risk, like dams, bridges and drainage. Health issues, like the Thames Tideway and all of the local sewer and water treatment systems are essential if we are to avoid disease with increasing population pressure. Disintegrating transport systems should also be sorted out, e.g. Victorian tunnels. These issues should always take precedence over vanity projects like ‘slightly quicker ‘railways and extra runways for luxury holidaymakers.”

Looking to our politicians, Another Steve said: “What we really need to see is a rolling, all party agreed, fully funded, five year and ten [year] plan aimed at maintaining our strategic infrastructures. Of course, this will never happen because the Tories believe that the private sector will do this out of the goodness of their hearts and our democratic systems precludes any planning of more than four years. So, we are cursed with continually repeating the errors of the past and limping from one disaster to another – depressing?”

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