Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme
Infrastructure owners and operators are increasingly faced with the challenge of making our infrastructure resilient and mitigating the effects of extreme weather events and climate change. There is a wealth of data, knowledge and expertise in the UK research base which could address this challenge but this valuable resource is often difficult to access and requires translating to be more readily used.
The Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme (ERIIP) is a five-year, £5 million initiative, which is driven by the needs of the infrastructure sector. It aims to provide sound evidence for the identification and assessment of environmental risks and their impacts on infrastructure, translating the latest research into industry-relevant outputs.
The aims of the programme are to:
- increase visibility and access to leading science in the area of environmental risk
- build effective partnerships between academia and the infrastructure sector to facilitate access to that body of knowledge
- fund collaborative projects between academia and the infrastructure sector to translate existing research into tangible, industry- relevant tools and approaches to help them manage environmental risks
- strengthen the capacity of the research community to address the needs of the UK infrastructure sector through the development of long-term collaborations.
2 Feb 2017
The third funding call under ERIIP, NERC are encouraging proposals that address the challenges of ERIIP members as well as fill gaps in the portfolio of themes, hazards and sectors within the scope of the programme.
ERIIP is a collaboration between academia and infrastructure owners, operators, policymakers and regulators to enable the UK infrastructure sector to use environmental science to identify, quantify and manage environmental risks to UK infrastructure.
Infrastructure forms the backbone of the modern economy and underpins our living standards. The infrastructure that guarantees our energy and water supplies, and enables safe and reliable use of road, rail and air transport networks that connect the built environment, is vulnerable to a wide range of environmental risks including increasingly extreme weather events and climate change. Infrastructure owners and operators are faced with the challenge of protecting our infrastructure and ensuring it remains operational now and in the future.
NERC believes there is a wealth of data, knowledge and expertise in the UK research base which could improve the way in which environmental risks, such as those from extreme weather and climate change, are identified and planned for; however this valuable resource is often not readily accessible and requires translation to be useable by decision makers.
To unlock the data, knowledge and expertise in the environmental science research base, NERC are investing £5 million, over five years, in the Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme. The programme will fund projects that take the outcomes of existing research and translate these into industry-relevant information, tools to help UK infrastructure identify environmental risks, assess their impacts on infrastructure and develop solutions.
Multi-hazard combination illustration
Illustration of a cross-section of land and sea, containing examples of industries and infrastructure, surrounded by list of hazards that could effect the infrastructure:
- Air quality
- Frequency/intensity of weather extremes
- Precipitation (rain/snow)
- Sea level rise
- Space weather
- Storms (lightening/surge)
- Temperature (hot/cold)
- Volcanic ash
- Waves (tsunami)
NERC works with infrastructure owners and operators from across the infrastructure sector, including energy generation (nuclear, renewables), energy transmission, water, road, rail as well as regulators, policymakers and engineering consultancies. Members of the programme steer the programme, including the scope and focus of funding calls and ERIIP activities.
Through the programme industry members are able to:
- access, at a pre-competitive stage, to a developing body of high-quality environmental research translated into industry-relevant outputs
- work with other industry peers in your sector to share and offset the costs of pre-competitive research that might not otherwise receive funding
- understand and build awareness of the latest environmental science and opportunities to collaborate with the knowledge base
- input into and shape the development of longer term research programmes through strategic interaction with NERC.
Applications for ERIIP membership will remain open for the duration of the programme and interested organisations should contact Katie Hart at email@example.com to discuss membership.
NERC has contracted the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) to support ERIIP. CIRIA's role is to:
- coordinate the programme convening member meetings, facilitating events and developing the programme of events for ERIIP
- broker relationships between the programme members and academics in the call process by running brokerage workshops and managing introductions to the programme members where there is a clear linkage or opportunity
- monitor funded projects to develop a cohort of projects funded under the programme
- manage the dissemination of Programme outputs and projects funded under the programme.
The Programme will focus on a series of key themes which have been developed through individual consultation with infrastructure owners and operators and a series of scoping workshops with the business and academic communities. Summaries of the scoping workshops are available in the Resources section
Theme 1: Identifying, understanding and quantifying environmental risks to the infrastructure system.
Theme 2: Likelihood, effect and impact of multi-hazard combinations on the infrastructure system.
Theme 3: Dealing with uncertainty in design, operational and investment decisions.
Each of the three programme themes is underpinned by one major guiding principle: the fact that the infrastructure system is not a disconnected series of isolated assets, but rather is viewed in terms of cross-sectoral issues, challenges and interdependencies.
Theme 1: Identifying, understanding and quantifying environmental risks to the infrastructure system recognises the need to provide infrastructure owners and operators with information about the likelihood and severity of environmental hazards, based on a sound understanding of the processes at work and how the infrastructure system will be affected. This theme therefore focuses on:
- understanding long term trends and short term extremes
- identification, quantification and analysis of environmental risks, their drivers and impacts on the infrastructure system
- interdependencies in the infrastructure system
- extreme events: frequency, severity, impact on society; approaches to assess impact of hazards on the infrastructure system
- improving models for risk assessment and risk-based approaches to decision-making.
Theme 2: Likelihood, effect and impact of multi-hazard combinations on the infrastructure system recognises that the infrastructure system is viewed as an interdependent system and information is needed to ensure the whole system is resilient to environmental change. It also recognises that there is a need to understand the likelihood, effect and impact of hazards – and particularly multi-hazard combinations - on the infrastructure system. This theme therefore focuses on:
- vulnerability of the infrastructure system to chains of events
- chronology of events and impact in the context of the infrastructure system
- identifying and understanding the impact of extreme environmental events in terms of interdependencies of infrastructure
- development of approaches to multi-hazard assessment including scientific evidence on joint probabilities
- models predicting cause/effect and sequences in relation to extreme events
- considering resilience to non-environmental hazards in combination with environmental hazards
- informing decisions on degrees of redundancy in decision making.
Theme 3: Dealing with uncertainty in design, operational and investment decisions recognises that robust decision-making requires an understanding of the uncertainties involved, as well tools to facilitate decision making on risk-based information to inform mitigation. Uncertainties are particularly important for infrastructure which will have a life of at least 50-100 years and need to be resilient to a climate that is significantly different from today. This theme therefore focuses on:
- measurement and characterisation of uncertainty
- dealing with uncertainty in decision-making
- perception of risk and its communication
- the role of information in decision-making - how environmental knowledge and data can affect decision making
- new approaches to visualisation and communication of risk to enable effective decision making.
Relevant challenges of individual ERIIP members are listed in the resources section.
2014 - 2019
Can I apply for a grant?
No, there are no current funding opportunities.
The Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme is a five-year, £5 million initiative.
Funding is available to eligible academic institutes for collaborative projects with partners from the UK infrastructure sector for projects which develop existing science into usable knowledge and tools
There have now been five innovation funding calls as part of the Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme. Since 2014, 60 collaborative projects have been funded through the programme.
ERIIP members have individual challenges in relation to environmental risks to infrastructure.
The Construction Industry Research & Information Association (CIRIA), who are ERIIP programme coordinators, hold regular webinars and events bringing together industry and academia on this, and related topics. Information on these events will be available here and on the CIRIA website - external link - as well as information about funding opportunities and brokerage events.
ERIIP holds regular webinars and events to disseminate the findings of the projects funded through the programme. The presentations from these industry-focused webinars can be found via the links below:
- Water sector - external link -
- Renewable energy, nuclear and power systems - external link -
- Geological hazards - external link -
Case studies - external link - on the completed projects are available on the CIRIA website.
Two workshops were held in 2014 to discuss the key environmental issues facing UK infrastructure and what is needed from the research base to support decision-making around these issues. The workshop reports are available below.