Climate change adaptation by design - Town and Country Planning ...

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Climate change adaptation by design - Town and Country Planning ...

4.4 managing ground

conditions

Ground conditions and land

stability are affected by temperature,

precipitation, winds, and wave

action, in addition to physical factors

such as mining activity, road building

or vegetation. Climate change will

have significant impacts on ground

conditions in some areas.

Methods for managing land stability should

take into account the potential for subsidence,

heave, erosion, and landslip. During longer, hotter

summers shrinkable clay soils are likely to dry

out, making buildings and service pipes vulnerable

to cracking. Wetter winters will contribute to

risks of ‘heave’ where ground swells. Shrinking

and swelling of the ground is one of the most

damaging geohazards in Britain today. According

to the British Geological Survey this has cost the

economy an estimated £3 billion over the past

decade. To counter this effect, existing buildings

can be underpinned and new buildings can

incorporate improved foundation design.

Because erosion is closely related to fl ood risks on

coasts, geotechnical experts should work closely

with fl ood risk managers to respond effectively

to both challenges. New approaches to design,

funding and management of land stability

measures may be required in order to respond to

the new pressures that climate change will bring.

Where is the imperative for

adaptation greatest

The risk of subsidence and heave is strongly

dependent on local soil type, and varies

considerably with location. Many soils contain

clay minerals that swell when wet and shrink as

they dry. The British Geological Survey produces

a national GeoSure dataset that identifi es those

areas that are currently most at risk. The most

susceptible land is found mainly in the southeast

of the UK. In the future it is sensible to assume

that these areas, which will experience the most

signifi cant decreases in summer precipitation,

will also be at highest risk of subsidence

and heave.

Erosion and landslip are infl uenced by slope,

soil type, fl ow of water, and vegetative cover.

Coastal areas are vulnerable, as are embankments,

cuttings, and steep and/or unvegetated cover.

As sea levels rise the risk of coastal erosion

will increase.

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