UK port preparedness for climate change: The benefits of appropriate adaptation.
Authors: Flegg, E.F., Brown, S., Nicholls, R.J. and Tsimplis, M.N.
Conference: Coasts, Marine Structures and Breakwaters
Dates: 5-7 September 2017
Climate change poses diverse and severe challenges for the UK port sector both in terms of creeping change, such as sea-level rise, and sudden shocks in the form of extreme weather events. To contend with these challenges timely and effective adaptation is needed. This paper aims to assess the perceptions on, and adaptation preparedness of, the UK’s 162 commercial ports. Adaptation Reports, Port Master Plans and responses to an Adaptation Questionnaire were analysed to determine the climate change readiness of the UK port sector. Few UK ports are currently incorporating adaptation into their planning or operational decisions. The ports that are adapting are mainly the largest in the UK in terms of commercial activity and revenue. Many UK ports consider themselves to be “too small” to currently invest in adapting to climate change. Both “hard” and “soft” adaptation measures were proposed or implemented by ports who are adapting, with improvements to planning documentations being the most commonly implemented adaptation strategy. It is important that ports consider their vulnerability to extreme weather events and climate change, and take appropriate and timely adaptive action. Preparedness for climate change is uneven across the UK port sector. It is vital that this critical issue is addressed before climate change becomes a critical business, and operational, risk.