For a number of years, the Climate Change Adaptation Partnership at Birmingham City Council has been assessing the risks and opportunities that arise from climate change.

The partnership has a work plan with four priorities:

  • assess risks;
  • plan adaptation priorities;
  • take action; and,
  • get the message across.

An important part of assessing risk is developing a practical risk mapping tool. Birmingham?s Urban Climate Change and Neighbourhood Estimate of Environmental Risk tool (BUCCANEER), which is under continual development, is based on climate data specific to Birmingham and also includes information on health inequalities and likely vulnerability to experiencing the impacts of climate change.

Data gathered suggests that poorer people are more likely to live on flood plains that are at risk to varying degrees. Flooding has been linked to a number of health impacts, including the actual danger to people during a flood, and the mental health impacts of flooded property. Additionally, cities are already hotter than rural areas because the built environment so finding ways to adapt to temperature rises is even more pressing.

The adaptation partnership has highlighted the opportunities of risk mapping for considering health in planning for climate change. Engaging health services in the work of the partnership has raised their awareness of the health impacts of projected higher temperatures.

Many adaptation measures will include providing a greener infrastructure, which could contribute to reducing health inequalities. For example, building more parks in disadvantaged areas to help adapt to climate change will also provide an opportunity for people living in these areas to access more open space. This could potentially lead to improve levels of physical activity and reduce obesity. Increasing the number of street trees will improve air quality and reduce respiratory diseases.

Further to the production of the tool, Birmingham City Council has ensured that the BUCCANEER tool is embedded in the planning process through the Local Development Plan and the Supplementary Planning Document, currently being finalised. The Council hope to use the tool as guidance in responding to planning applications to demonstrate how they might adapt to future impacts. Additionally, the Green Living Spaces Plan made use of the tool, which has been recognised nationally as best practice.