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Businesses should prepare for more heatwaves, say MPs

The hosepipe ban may have been called off, but the UK remains at risk of severe disruption from heatwaves in future, with MPs calling for maximum workplace temperatures to be enforced.

 

The hosepipe ban may have been called off, but the UK remains at risk of severe disruption from heatwaves in future, with MPs calling for maximum workplace temperatures to be enforced.

Despite United Utilities cancelling its planned hosepipe ban, the lack of rain has led to a rapid decline in reservoir levels in the North West.

While it is difficult to link specific weather events to climate change, scientific research has shown climate change made this summer’s heatwave more than twice as likely to occur. 

Rising temperatures

The Met Office has also confirmed that 2017 has now joined 2015 and 2016 as one of the three hottest years on record globally, demonstrating the rapid increase in average temperatures. 

There have even been reports that the current hot weather across Europe has forced some nuclear power plants to shut down due to the seawater used to cool reactors being too warm.

Scientists have estimated that this level of heat could occur every other summer in the UK by 2040.

The government’s climate advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), believes the UK should be doing more to prepare for intense heatwaves in the future.

‘Businesses should be aware’

“We can expect greater water deficits across the country, including in cooler wetter areas like the North West of England”, said Kathryn Brown, head of adaptation at the CCC. 

Heatwaves can also result in overheated workplaces and lower productivity. A report from a cross-party group of MPs on heatwaves, published on 18 July, said smaller businesses should be encouraged to have continuity plans in place.

“The government should make businesses aware of the developing threat of heatwaves and the economic consequences”, the report states.

“Public Health England should also issue formal guidance to employers to relax dress codes and allow flexible working when heatwave alerts are issued…[and] the government should consult on introducing maximum workplace temperatures, especially for work that involves significant physical effort.”