BGS news

Evolving policies in the face of climate change: BGS data can help

Climate change is increasingly recognised as a major challenge for organisations, with the need for adaptation driving a wave of policy updates and reforms across multiple sectors. BGS data holdings are relevant to many of these changes and the following examples outline how these data packages can be applied.

Subsidence warning notice, Arvalee © Kenneth Allen cc-by-sa/2.0. Geograph Britain and Ireland
Subsidence warning notice, Arvalee © Kenneth Allen cc-by-sa/2.0. Geograph Britain and Ireland

Financial stress tests

The Bank of England stress tests have been designed to ensure that banks, insurers and lenders are resilient enough to cope with severe economic conditions. In 2021 the 2021 Climate Biennial Exploratory Scenario (CBES) was carried out to test resilience against physical risks associated with different climate change scenarios.

BGS GeoClimate is our flagship climate change geohazard dataset which assesses the susceptibility of lithologies to shrink-swell subsidence considering different climate change scenarios.This allows organisations to assess their portfolios for potential future ground instability risks and develop mitigation plans accordingly.

In 2021 BGS GeoClimate utilised UKCP18 climate projection data to offer susceptibility projections for RCP8.5. In order to better support future stress testing and policy changes BGS is developing an additional BGS GeoClimate update which deploys EURO-CORDEX climate simulations to deliver shrink-swell subsidence susceptibility projections. This will include data for RCPs 2.6, 4.5 and 8.5. (Keep an eye out for our upcoming product launch and blog post aimed at demystifying climate projections.)

Information icon

BGS GeoClimate video

Conveyancing regulations

Earlier this year the Law Society for England and Wales announced new guidance relating to climate change which placed the onus on solicitors to “advise on physical climate risks and how they impact real estate ownership and use”. BGS GeoClimate can play a key role in advising conveyancers and property search companies on potential future subsidence threats.

BGS GeoCoast is a coastal geohazard data package containing future coastal inundation scenarios and an assessment of the erodibility of the GB coastline. With sea levels predicted to rise into the future BGS GeoCoast is a powerful tool to satisfy policy requirements and identify properties which are likely to be impacted by these geohazards in the future. BGS GeoCoast has been specifically designed to be integrated with shoreline management plan areas to support local authorities in implementing their region-specific policies.

Information icon

BGS GeoCoast video

National adaptation planning

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities ran a consultation period from December 2022- March 2023 regarding proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework. BGS responded to this consultation, a component of which focused on tackling climate change. The consultation made little mention of geohazards but stated that “Any changes needed for adaptation in the National Planning Policy Framework will include considering any changes required to reflect the third National Adaptation Programme, governments policy response to the latest assessment of UK climate risk.” Defra has since published the National Adaptation Programme (NAP3) which identifies 61 climate risks and opportunities, including geohazards such as:

  • groundwater flooding and scarcity
  • coastal erosion
  • subsidence
  • aquifer contamination from saltwater intrusions
  • threats to soils and agricultural productivity
  • river erosion.

BGS has compiled a breakdown of BGS digital datasets available to support sector specific climate change challenges and covers a host of geohazards, focusing on those identified by NAP3.

These include groundwater vulnerability datasets for England, Wales and Scotland and BGS GeoScour , a national river erosion susceptibility data package which identifies river beds and banks prone to erosion that is a valuable tool for any forward-looking assessment of threats to riverside assets and infrastructure.

Information icon

BGS GeoScour video

More information

Although this is by no means an exhaustive list of either the evolving policies across all UK sectors or the BGS geoscience and datasets available to support their implementation, we hope that this has provided a useful insight into how BGS data holdings can be applied. If you would like to find out more or have a specific query please see our BGS geohazards and climate change position statement, which provides a review of current BGS geohazard-related activities that consider our changing climate within a UK context. You can also get in touch with the digital data team (

About the author

Rob Shaw
Rob Shaw

Geospatial data analyst

BGS Keyworth
Find out more

Was this page helpful?

  • How can we make this section better?*

  • Please select a reason*

  • How can we make this section better?*