In our next interview on climate change and sustainability, we talk to subsidence risk expert Dr Tim Farewell to understand how subsidence risk will change in the future.

Tim is a geospatial soil and environmental scientist specialising in the dynamic interactions between geohazards and critical infrastructure. He is also the Science and Communications Director at Terrafirma. Terrafirma are pioneers in ground and sub-ground data, information, risk assessment and reporting solutions.

Luke: How could climate change affect subsidence risk in property in the future?

Tim:

Let’s take a step back before we look at subsidence and look at what the key headlines for climate change are. So, if you think, our climate is going to shift to one with warmer wetter winters and hotter drier summers and where more extreme rainfall and weather events are more likely to occur.

How that transpires for subsidence is the hotter drier summers is a real concern.

So effectively subsidence happens when you have soils which can shrink. There’s a thousand different soil types in the UK and some of them can shrink when they lose water. Particular clay soils shrink as they dry out in the summer months.

Effectively what we’re seeing is more and more of the country is heading in the direction where those soils will dry out to below a meter depth each year and some of those soils, particularly those further north, are moderately shrinkable.

At the moment they’re always wet, in the summer, or at least damp they don’t they fully shrink. So as those soils dry out more, more and more properties built on those soil types, are likely to suffer subsidence.