South West infrastructure experts join forces to confront the climate challenge

Civil engineers and infrastructure experts from across the South West came together for two workshops to map out a greener future for the region’s infrastructure network.

The workshops called Decarbonisation: The Path to Net Zero identified a vision for a low carbon infrastructure system to meet the region’s needs and challenges, and provided a road map on how to move the South West forward on the path to net-zero.

Working with the University of Bristol, the workshops were organised by the South West Infrastructure Partnership (SWIP), a body formed by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South West to bring together senior engineers from each infrastructure sector to discuss and collaborate on the region’s infrastructure provision.

The workshops took place on Wednesday 29 January at the Watershed Arts Centre, Bristol and on Thursday 6 February at Truro Community Library, Cornwall.

Peter Kydd, ICE Fellow and member of SWIP, said:

“The South West has distinct infrastructure challenges, not least the vulnerability of many communities to rising sea levels and flooding. As engineers, we have a crucial role to play in adapting our infrastructure to cope with the impacts of climate change and redesigning infrastructure, whether that’s power or transport, to use low carbon technologies. The workshops brought together infrastructure engineers from all backgrounds to explore the many different pathways to low carbon and coagulated a strategic approach that is fit for purpose in the South West.”

In collaboration with the University of Bristol’s Infrastructure Observatory, SWIP will feed the discussion and ideas generated at the workshops into its new report, Decarbonisation of the South West Peninsula’s Infrastructure, due to be published later this year.

The workshops will also input into ICE’s State of the Nation 2020: Infrastructure and the Net-Zero Target report, examining the contribution of the UK’s economic infrastructure networks in meeting net-zero emissions by 2050, including an assessment of their current environmental impact. The ICE report will recommend a series of interventions and options to policymakers and industry stakeholders.  

Miranda Housden, ICE South West Regional Director, said:

“This was a unique opportunity for civil engineers to take the lead in the South West on addressing the impacts arising from climate change and contribute to the debate on infrastructure decarbonisation and net-zero.”

More than 120 infrastructure experts from across the region are expected to attend the workshops to contribute to the discussion, led by Dr Neil Carhart, Lecturer in Infrastructure Systems, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Bristol. He commented:

“The ability to successfully manage many long-term infrastructure challenges is hindered by historically fragmented operation, governance and oversight. Addressing the climate emergency requires a joined-up approach that recognises the inherent interdependency between infrastructure systems. These workshops will help the South West develop a powerful collective voice on its infrastructure at the national level and overcome counter-productive decision making that can arise from a fragmented perspective.”

Documents from the two workshops can be downloaded from the knowledge page.