7 Risk Management and Network Resilience

7 Risk Management and Network Resilience

7.1 Overview

Risk management is the process of identifying, analysing, assessing and managing risk, where risk is ‘the chance of something happening that will impact on safety or service’. In more quantitative terms, risk is the combination of the frequency or probability of occurrence and the consequences of a specific hazard being realised.

Asset Management Framework

The Cabinet Office has defined resilience as ‘the ability of the community, services, area or infrastructure to detect, prevent, and, if necessary to withstand, handle and recover from disruptive challenges’. This definition fits well with the risk-based approach that we adopt to manage the trunk road network and provides a good overview of what network resilience we should aim to deliver.

7.2 Transport Scotland Corporate Risk Management Strategy

Risk is relevant to all parts of our business and as such it is important that a consistent and joined up approach is used across all Transport Scotland Directorates. We have developed a Corporate Risk Management Strategy to align with and provide synergy between the directorate’s approach to risk management, the strategy sets out a clear system for identifying, managing and mitigating risk and incorporates:

  • Existing risk management arrangements.
  • An up-to-date Corporate Risk Register.
  • Appropriate measures in place to mitigate risk.
  • Regular reviews by the senior management team of the risk register.
  • Prioritised risks in order to escalate them to appropriate levels within Transport Scotland, the wider Scottish Government and Scottish Ministers so that any necessary action can be taken.
  • An annual review and updating if appropriate of the risk management strategy.

Our Corporate Risk Register sits above and is informed by the risk registers held by each directorate. We have a number of risk management practices for trunk roads, all of which form part of our asset management approach, these are summarised in the following sections.

7.3 Resilient Network

Our network is made up of several route corridors that are of strategic importance to the economic stability and growth and social wellbeing of Scotland. The network is vital because it connects our cities, rural communities and the ports that serve the islands.

Having such a diverse network makes it impractical to either assess or build resilience across the entire network. As a result we have focused our resilience risk assessments and plans on individual subsets of our network. These risk assessments are developed and reviewed when required to ensure that it provides:

  • connectivity between our major communities;
  • links to key transport interchanges;
  • access to emergency facilities including fire and rescue, police, ambulance services and hospitals;
  • links to critical infrastructure (ports, power stations, water treatment works etc); 
  • principal public transport routes and access to stations, bus garages and depots;
  • other important facilities; and
  • connectivity with the local road network where appropriate.

When defining our resilient network, consideration is given to engaging with local resilience partnerships, key businesses and interest groups to jointly identify routes which are critical to the economic and social wellbeing of Scotland. Local road authorities are also consulted to ensure continuity of the resilient network throughout Scotland.

7.4 Planning for Responding to Network Disruptions

Disruption Risk Management Plan

Our resilience planning is not just about the physical resilience of the trunk road network but also about how disruption is managed and the speed of recovery. Our Operating Companies are required to prepare and maintain a Disruption Risk Management Plan which brings together the range of processes, tools, records and operational plans that collectively describe the activities undertaken to enable timely and effective action to mitigate the effects of emergencies, as they affect the trunk road network. Further information on responding to incidents is available in Schedule 7 Part 3 of our Operating Company Contract.

Example of disruption to traffic

Figure 7.1:  Overview of Disruption Risk Management Planning

Figure 7.1:  Overview of Disruption Risk Management Planning

Our Operating Companies are also required to undertake a series of activities aimed at improving journey time reliability by minimising the risk of unplanned disruption to the operation of the trunk road network. The Transport Scotland Manual for the Management of the Risk of Unplanned Network Disruption provides direction to Operating Companies on managing and mitigating the effects of disruptive events, such as those caused by weather events. The manual requires Operating Companies to develop and implement disruption risk processes which are informed by the formal recording of all previous events, as they occur. This includes severe weather related events such as high winds, flooding, snow and ice. The ongoing recording of events and subsequent revisions to the plans provides a platform for early detection of changing conditions that may have an impact on the network. Furthermore, the manual includes a Disruption Risk Assessment Tool which provides a robust and objective framework within which to analyse patterns of events, and their locations, in order to support decision-making and identify particularly vulnerable locations and assets. This will be used to drive investment to address disruption events that already occur and also those which might emerge or increase in frequency and severity in the future.

Partnership Response

We work in partnership with other transport operators, for example Scotrail, and agencies such as the Met Office and Police Scotland as part of our Multi-Agency Response Team (MART) arrangements. These can be activated for planned events like the Commonwealth Games or unplanned like a weather event. MART enables a more effective response to large-scale trunk road issues and forms part of our wider ‘all modes response’ which also feeds into the Scottish Government’s resilience response arrangements.

7.5 Management of Climate Change Risk

A Changing Climate

Various studies have been conducted into how climate change might impact on the transport sector and on the Scottish trunk road network in particular. These reports generally conclude that Scotland can expect to experience a general rise in average temperatures resulting in milder winters with fewer days of frost, ice and snow and warmer summers with more frequent, and extended, periods of hot weather. Reports also conclude that average annual rainfall will remain largely unchanged, but with summers expected to become drier and winters expected to become wetter. It is also, and most importantly, predicted that extreme weather events will become more frequent and more severe. This includes prolonged and heavy precipitation events, high wind occurrences, storms and periods of drought. Furthermore, sea levels are projected to rise and storm surges are expected to become more severe.

If not understood and prepared for, these changing weather patterns are likely to result in increased disruption to road users. Increased surface water flooding has been identified as a primary risk, with journeys also being increasingly at risk of disruption from landslides and high winds. There will also be an increased risk of scour affecting bridge footings where they are present within rivers and estuaries. Some of our key initiatives aimed at identifying and minimising the risk of climate change disruption are outlined in the following sections.

Climate Change Adaptation

To minimise future disruption and ensure that the Scottish trunk road network is resilient to the impacts of a changing climate action must be taken to understand where, how and when the impacts are likely to be felt, and also how effective adaptation and resilience building can be achieved. The challenges of adapting to a changing climate cannot be considered in isolation. Climate change needs to be a routine consideration, factored into Transport Scotland’s day- to-day decision-making processes rather than a discrete risk to be managed independently. Although, many of Transport Scotland’s activities are affected by climate, few decisions can be made taking only climate considerations into account.

Addressing climate change is not simply about preparing for and managing increased disruption. Consideration must also be given to the adaptation of network design, construction, operation and maintenance processes and procedures to reduce vulnerability and the potential impact of these effects.

The Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme (CCAP) was developed in response to Section 53 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and to address the impacts identified for Scotland in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (2012). The CCAP aims to provide:

A Scotland with well-managed, resilient infrastructure and buildings providing access to the amenities and services we need.

The programme identifies three high level objectives in order to deliver this:

  • Objective B1: Understand the effects of climate change and their impacts on buildings and infrastructure networks.
  • Objective B2: Provide the knowledge, skills and tools to manage climate change impacts on buildings and infrastructure.
  • Objective B3: Increase the resilience of buildings and infrastructure networks to sustain and enhance the benefits and services provided.

There are numerous actions and recommendations which fall under these three broad objectives, several of which are directly focussed on the Scottish trunk road network. Full details are set out within the CCAP report laid before the Scottish Parliament in May 2014, which can be obtained via: www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00451392.pdf

Transport Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Plan

The Scottish CCAP report requires Transport Scotland to consider aspects such as high winds, flooding and landslides and to develop appropriate strategies. These strategies are being incorporated into a Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Plan (CCARP) currently being developed for the Scottish trunk road network in order to support continuing improvement and effective adaptation. 

The CCARP will build on the output from the Disruption Risk Management Plans and take a fresh look at the nature of the trunk road asset to identify where the greatest vulnerabilities currently exist. The study then considers where the risk might be further increased due to changing weather patterns and allows the development of mitigation plans to support future investment decisions.

The CCARP will also draw on the outcome of an international study commissioned by the World Road Association which is due to be published by the end of 2015. Work on the CCARP is well advanced with completion expected by the end of 2015 and will lead to the production of an inventory of vulnerable assets and road sections which are considered to be at risk from the effects of changing weather patterns. It will also include a series of asset-specific, operational and network-wide recommendations for increasing resilience and supporting investment decisions.

7.6 Flood Risk Management

Transport Scotland has identified surface water flooding as a primary risk to the smooth operation of the trunk road network and is closely aligned with the ongoing activities in the Flood Risk Management Programme, itself borne out of the Water Framework Directive and the Flooding Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) coordinates this work on behalf of the Scottish Government, with Local Authorities taking the lead on the development of Local Action Plans with a view to developing Local Flood Risk Management Plans. 

As Local Flood Risk Management Plans are developed, Transport Scotland will aim to provide information on how trunk road drainage assets might impact on Potentially Vulnerable Areas (PVAs), as well as understand how flooding in the PVAs might impact on trunk road operations. This will be augmented by our Disruption Risk Management process which will improve understanding of known flooding locations, and deliver mitigation plans and improvement programmes.

Transport Scotland is fully engaged in this process and will continue to contribute to the framework and the development of action plans and management plans.

7.7 Managing the Impact of Landslides

Scotland’s scenery of high mountains and steep valleys can be particularly prone to landslides during periods of extended heavy rainfall. Landslides are natural events involving the movement of a mass of rock, earth or debris and can occur above or below sections of the trunk road network with consequential effects on the function or stability of the road. Landslides such as these are difficult to prevent but steps are being taken to manage the consequences and to reduce the impact of landslides on trunk roads as well as keeping road users fully informed when events occur.

The implications of landslides on the operation of the road network were brought into sharp focus in August 2004, when very heavy rainfall led to a series of debris flows, causing a number of disruptive trunk road closures, primarily in the Argyll and Perthshire areas of Scotland. Following these events, a program of detailed research was initiated with a view to managing the hazard of potential landsides, in terms of the risks presented to road users. 

managing the hazard of potential landsides

The research set out to develop a method of identifying lengths of the trunk road network most prone to the hazard of debris flows and to categorise these sections in terms of the degree of hazard that they present to the physical road asset. By taking cognisance of traffic flow and length of diversion route, the system also allows the prioritisation of preventative or management actions, dependent on available or allocated budget. As a result of work, Transport Scotland can identify areas with the potential for disruptive debris-flow and ensure that suitable exposure-management contingency plans are in place, including:

  • Monitoring of slopes prone to landslides, including remote sensing and the use of drones.
  • Liaison with weather forecasters for weather warnings.
  • Landslide patrols during weather events.
  • Road-side warning signs during periods of increased risk.
  • Providing travel warnings, information and advice to road users.
  • Landslide risk reduction measures, e.g. physical engineering measures.

Further information on the Landslides Study and how we manage the impact of landslides can be found at www.transportscotland.gov.uk/road/maintenance/about-landslides

A Scotland with well-managed, resilient infrastructure and buildings providing access to the amenities and services we need.