Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Environmental risks to infrastructure

This programme aims to bring together the systems that connect infrastructure – transport, utilities, communications and environmental management – to enable a better understanding of how they are affected by our changing environment and to develop opportunities for the UK economy.

Partners involved:
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Arup, Atkins, EDF Energy, Environment Agency, HR Wallingford, HS2, London Underground, National Grid, Network Rail, Scottish Water, SSE, Temple, Translink, Transport Scotland, UK Water Industry Research, WSP, Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA).

The scope and what we're doing

Instead of seeing infrastructure as a set of disconnected assets, we believe that looking at infrastructures together with the systems connecting them – transport, utilities, communications and environmental management – will help us better understand how they are affected by our changing environment, offering important opportunities for the UK economy.

NERC wants to work with business and policymakers to build on these opportunities and to address the challenges facing our infrastructure in the 21st century.

This programme will be of interest to:

  • companies working in the areas of transport infrastructure – roads, railways, airports, ports, canals, bridges and tunnels
  • utilities infrastructure – distribution networks, power generation including renewables, water
  • environmental management – flood management, green infrastructure, waste management and drainage
  • communications – space weather, broadband, satellites
  • integrators of environmental science such as engineering consultancies, large scale developers and the construction industry
  • policymakers and regulators with responsibility for infrastructure.

Why we're doing it

Infrastructure forms the backbone of our modern economy. It underpins our living standards and contributes to the competitiveness of UK businesses but the infrastructure that guarantees our energy and water supplies and enables safe and reliable road, rail and air transport is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and to the natural environment more widely.

Two workshops were held in 2014 to discuss the key environmental issues facing UK infrastructure and what is needed from the research base to support decision making around these issues.

Read the workshop report, 24 June 2014

Read the workshop report, 8 July 2014

A review of environmental multi-hazards research and risk assessments was commissioned by NERC and performed by British Geological Survey and Natural Hazards Partnership partners.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

There have now been five innovation funding opportunities as part of the Environmental risks to infrastructure programme, funding 60 collaborative projects since 2014.

Read the 2017 review of the programme and its impacts.

Find out more about projects funded under this programme and read some case studies.

Who to contact

Jacky Wood


Telephone: 01793 442645

Last updated: 17 October 2022

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