South Ribble Borough Council, like many other Councils, is already experiencing changes in weather patterns, including heat waves and flooding. Despite the actions being taken to reduce carbon emissions within the Borough it is necessary to accept that some changes affected by global warming are already upon us.
The Met Office have stated that 'it is a cornerstone principle of resilience preparation that we plan for a wide range of possible future changes, in parallel with taking actions to reduce the likelihood of the worst scenario becoming reality'(24), so the Council must ensure it takes action to prepare for such changes, and reduce the effects of them where possible.
Global warming will affect the prevalence of infectious diseases (7) Altitudes that are currently too cool to sustain vectors (for example mosquitos) will become more conducive to them. Infections previously eradicated in the UK such as Malaria, dengue, plague, and viruses causing encephalitic syndromes are among the many diseases likely to return. With warmer and wetter weather conditions we may also see a rise in native pests such as rats and mice, and conditions which support the life cycle of non-native pest such as the Asian Hornet.
Clearly, global warming will cause changes in the epidemiology of infectious diseases. The ability of our public health systems to react or adapt is dependent upon the magnitude and speed of the change. The outcome will also depend on our ability to recognize epidemics early, to contain them effectively, to provide appropriate treatment, and to commit resources to prevention and research.
The Council's Environmental Health service will continue to work with Public Health England, the Food Standards Agency, peers and businesses to investigate and control the spread of food and water related infectious diseases within the Borough.
The Council's Pest Control service will monitor changes in pest activity within the Borough, work with suppliers, peers, businesses and National Government to ensure the service remains fit for service in a changing environment. We will lobby Central Government as required to ensure suitable and safe products and methods are available to tackle the changing pest control challenges.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have stated that climate change is likely to have considerable impacts on food safety, both direct and indirect, placing public health at risk.
With changing rainfall patterns and increases in extreme weather events and the annual average temperature the WHO state that we will begin to face the impacts of climate change.
These impacts will affect the persistence and occurrence of food related bacteria, viruses, parasites, harmful algae, fungi and their vectors, and the patterns of their corresponding foodborne diseases and risk of toxic contamination.
The predicted climatic changes will have serious implications for the survival of our native pollinators therefore threatening the sustainability of our total food supply. There are already reports of the invasive Asian Hornet on the Channel Islands and in Southern England this year. This species has devastated bee hives in France and combined with the stress put on hives by increased temperatures and the use of pesticides this has significant implications for the security of our food supply.
Alongside these impacts, chemical residues of pesticides and veterinary medicines in plant and animal products will be affected by changes in pest activity. The risk of food contamination with heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants following changes in crop varieties cultivated, cultivation methods, soils, redistribution of sediments and long-range atmospheric transport, is increased because of climate changes.(6)
The Council's Environmental Health service will continue to work with central Government, the Food Standards Agency, DEFRA, other partner organisations, laboratories, peers and businesses to continue to protect food safety within the Borough.
Whilst the Council's food safety service is primarily concerned with the security and hygiene of the food manufactured and sold within the borough the service works collaboratively with the other local authorities within Lancashire to respond to consultations on future policies proposed by central government departments. he Council's Pest Control service will monitor changes in pest activity within the Borough, work with suppliers, peers, businesses and National Government to ensure the service remains fit for service in a changing environment. We will lobby Central Government as required to ensure suitable and safe products and methods are available to tackle the changing pest control challenges.
The Met Office have stated that the UK's climate is becoming wetter. (8) For example, the highest rainfall totals over a five day period are 4% higher during the most recent decade (2008-2017) compared to 1961-1990. In addition, the amount of rain from extremely wet days has increased by 17% when comparing the same time periods.
More recently winter 2013/14 and winter 2015/16 have been two of the wettest on record, with widespread impacts during both seasons. A Met Office study has shown that an extended period of extreme winter rainfall in the UK, similar to that seen in winter 2013/14, is now about seven times more likely due to human-induced climate change.
December 2015 was the wettest December, and indeed any calendar month, in the UK series since 1910. Rainfall reached 2 to 4 times the average in the west and north, with severe flooding in Cumbria in particular. A recent study showed that the heavy rains associated with Storm Desmond has been made about 60% more likely due to human induced climate change (26).
Met Office predictions suggest that summers may tend to become drier overall but when it does rain it will fall in heavier bursts, which has implications for flash flooding / surface water flooding.
Flooding events are more difficult to understand as they depend not only on the amount and intensity of rainfall but local topography and geology.
The Council will continue to work with the Environment Agency, United Utilities and Lancashire County Council to prevent flooding and react swiftly where it occurs.
Through their professional body, the CIEH, Environmental Health Officers are lobbying government regarding the numerous realities of climate change.
The Committee on Climate Change reports that there are plans for 1.5 million new UK homes by 2022 (9). It states that 'these new homes must be built to be low-carbon, energy and water efficient and climate resilient. The costs of building to a specification that achieves the aims set out in this report are not prohibitive and getting design right from the outset is vastly cheaper than forcing retrofit later. From 2025 at the latest, no new homes should be connected to the gas grid. They should instead be heated through low carbon sources, have ultra-high levels of energy efficiency alongside appropriate ventilation and, where possible, be timber-framed. A statutory requirement for reducing overheating risks in new builds is needed, alongside more ambitious water efficiency standards, property-level flood protection in flood risk areas, and increasing requirements for greenspace and sustainable transport in planning and guidance.'
The Central Lancashire Authorities of Preston City, South Ribble and Chorley are undertaking a review of the development plan(s) for the area and are working towards the preparation of a Joint Local Plan for Central Lancashire. This will be a single Planning document containing the Council's vision and objectives. It will set strategic and local development management policies and site allocations for future development across the three authorities. Once adopted, the Local Plan will guide the future growth and development in the Central Lancashire area and replace the Central Lancashire Core Strategy (adopted in 2012) and the Local Plans/Site Allocations and Development Management Policies of the 3 Central Lancashire Authorities (all adopted 2015).
The vision for the plan sets out that by 2036 Central Lancashire will lead sustainable development in the region.
It will make the most of its economic, cultural, heritage and natural assets and be at the forefront of tackling and adapting to the impacts and challenges of climate change. Recognising this, the councils will seek to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Connections will improve access across Central Lancashire by prioritising sustainable transport including walking and cycling to link town and city centres with their wider areas, alongside other destinations. Overall, Central Lancashire will be a place where people and businesses thrive and a place where people will want to work, live and visit.
New development will take place in a manner that mitigates against and adapts to the cause and impacts of climate change. It will take account of flood risk, be energy efficient and of high design quality, championing outstanding new architecture, making efficient use of resources and enabling waste prevention. It will respect and where appropriate reinforce local character and the relationships between buildings and their wider surroundings. Central Lancashire will be served by efficient infrastructure including transportation, utilities and communications.