16 November 2021 | Environment

Highway sector resilience report launched

John Lamb, Past President of the Local Government Technical Advisers Group (LGTAG), has welcomed the release of the DfT / LGTAG report on Emergency Preparedness, Response, & Recovery.

The full 115 page report can be viewed here.

Mr Lamb, who is Director of Environmental Services at Oldham Council, was closely involved in producing the report alongside Hugh Deeming – Principal Consultant at HD Research. The pair recently gave a presentation at LCRIG’s annual Strictly Highways event entitled ‘Highway sector emergency management: Strengthening competency & building capability‘.

The presentation is available to watch on demand here.

Mr Lamb said: “When the DfT commissioned this in-depth review of highway sector resilience it started a process that has left no stone unturned in sector challenges we face. Highways are the life line upon which our communities depend. They are the conduit for power, water, comms as well as being central to modern life – walking, cycling or buses and upon which our blue light service rely and our supply chains depends. Calderdale was the UK’s worst affected Borough back in 2015 with six major bridges lost. Cumbria had 1,234 assets impacted and communities severed – a disaster as defined by the United Nations.

“More frequent and more intense weather systems are hitting our communities hard. Future events will be worse than Cumbria (Desmond plus 20% rainfall). In publishing today, DfT are showing real leadership about how the sector must co-design better ways to support communities over coming decades. The challenge spans administrative boundaries and parliamentary terms of office – it must tackle dated assets of generations long gone.

“We cannot rely on Military aide and the Chinook – capacity and capability of local teams and how our Highway Heroes are supported by Council Directors and Council Chief Executives has been given context and clarity. Publishing this report as COP26 closes is a reminder that the costs of historic inaction will hit communities globally for generations to come. The report supports the UK and maintains a UK lead on Resilience and Response.”

Mr Deeming makes 27 explicit observations and there are three core principles:

  1. The report must be at the heart of sector rethink of serving our communities.
  2. We must support our teams to be more consistent and swifter in undertaking Rapid Impact Assessment of assets that are being hit by extreme events to prevent or mitigate failures.
  3. A continuous learning approach must accept and learn from future asset collapse and impacts to communities.