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Britain feels the heat as it braces for record 40C heatwave

Record-breaking temperatures in parts of the UK on Monday disrupted travel, schools, hospitals and the electricity grid as infrastructure experts and climate change scientists called on the government to better plan for extreme weather.

Temperatures Reached a peak of 37C Across most of London and the south-west of England, when Wales recorded its hottest day at 37.1 C in Howard, Flintshire with the first ever heat alert of “level four” in the first two days of the week.

Kit Malta House Cabinet Secretary warned that it was expected to be even hotter on Tuesday, with weather forecasters predicting the UK’s previous record of 38.7C, set in 2019, to break.

“Temperatures are expected to reach the low level of the 1940s, they appear to be breaking the current record in the UK,” he told the House of Representatives on Monday.

The severe heat has led to a warning from National Grid that there is less power generation than expected to meet demand on Monday night, partly due to lower output from gas power plants, which are less heat efficient and form the mainstay. Of the system. The decline in output led to traders paying record prices to import electricity from the Netherlands.

Lawton Airport, north of London, was temporary Had to close his route After “surface defects” appeared on the asphalt; And railway companies across the UK either canceled services or traveled at a reduced speed because of the risk of tracks shrinking in the heat.

The struggle to maintain transportation traffic and the functioning of hospitals and schools has raised questions about whether government planning is appropriate to deal with the long-term projected rise in temperatures caused by climate change.

Nigel Arnell, a professor of climate systems science at the University of Reading, said European countries including Britain “really need to step up the game” in terms of resilience, but added that it would require coordination between government ministries and the private sector.

“While personal technical and behavioral solutions are relatively simple, progress is limited because the responsibility for action is spread across departments, agencies, private sector organizations and individuals,” he said.

Lawton Airport was forced to halt flights after the heat hit a runway © BBC

The Climate Change Committee, the UK Government’s Chief Adviser on the Environment, has consistently highlighted the risks of rising temperatures for buildings, energy and transport infrastructure. The 10 hottest years for Britain since 1884 have all occurred since 2002.

The government is expected to publish a national resilience strategy later this year based on a Report By the National Infrastructure Committee in May 2020, which called for setting “standards for resilience” every five years for each sector.

Sir John Armit, chairman of the NIC, said that as much of the infrastructure was owned and controlled by private companies, it was vital to ensure regulators would have the powers to enforce the new standards.

“We have called for transparent standards so that customers have a clear idea of ​​what they can expect, regarding regulators with the authority to ensure companies build a certain level of resilience,” he said.

Drawer steps activated to cope with the high temperatures led to significant delays and some line closures across the UK railway network and the London Underground, with trains having to travel more slowly on tracks designed to handle maximum temperatures of 35 degrees.

Many passengers have heeded warnings to stay home, with data from location technology expert TomTom showing that traffic levels in major cities including London and Birmingham were below those recorded a week earlier.

Network Rail said the number of train passengers was 20% lower than the same time last week. She called on people not to travel by train unless “absolutely necessary” and announced that she plans to partially close the East Coast line, which connects London to cities in the north of England and Scotland, on Tuesday afternoon.

Network Rail said it could re-engineer the network to cope with warmer temperatures, as in Spain, but that would not make it face extreme temperatures below zero in the winter. “We have to find the right balance as each train can only be designed for a specific temperature range,” he added.

As the number of ambulances increased due to the heat, the NHS also came under pressure, with some hospitals canceling operations and reducing visiting hours because older buildings did not have air conditioning.

Matthew Taylor, CEO of the NHS Confederation, said that without long-term investment, summer could become “even more difficult for the NHS to navigate than in winter,” which is traditionally when service requirements reach a peak.

Hot weather warning at King's Cross Station in London
Network Rail said many passengers took note of advice not to travel with a 20% drop on Monday last week © Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Images

Schools across England sent children home early, with teaching associations warning that many aging buildings are poorly equipped for rising temperatures. The government estimates it will cost £ 11.4 billion to renew schools across the country.

Joff Burton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said their buildings were unable to cope with two extreme situations of heat and cold, and pushed for larger capital investments.

Kit Knowles, the boss of the sustainable development company Ecospheric, has warned that the 25 million homes in England – some of the world’s oldest housing stock – are not equally equipped to cope with high temperatures. “We are the last to really consider overheating as a critical aspect, mainly because we have a fairly temperate climate,” he said.

Water companies in the UK have called on users to exercise restraint or face the growing risk of a pipe ban later this year.

But Roger Kemp, a professor emeritus at the University of Lancaster and a fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering, said part of the resilience is accepting the fact that on certain days given the increasing extreme temperature, it may not be business as usual.

“There is an opinion that we should not let the climate change our normal way of life, but other countries are taking a more reasonable approach,” he said. .

FT Reporting Team: Peter Foster, Jim Picard, Philip Georgedis, Camilla Hodgson, Bethan Statton, Sarah Neville, Natalie Thomas, Gil Flimmer and George Hammond

Britain feels the heat as it braces for record 40C heatwave Source link Britain feels the heat as it braces for record 40C heatwave

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