URGENT action is needed to stop climate change putting lives at risk through damage to Scotland’s infrastructure, according to a group of experts.

In its State of the Nation 2020 report, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scotland has warned that, warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, increased storm frequency and more intense rainfall are all putting pressure on Scotland’s infrastructure assets.

And without mitigation measures, worth billions, the impact of extreme weather will only increase, with potentially "devastating consequences for the infrastructure which underpins every aspect of our economy and society".

They warned: "Without urgent action we risk a series of infrastructure failures that would hurt the economy, be costly to resolve, and threaten the safety and wellbeing of infrastructure users. We must act quickly to adapt and retrofit our infrastructure so it is resilient to these impacts and can continue to perform. We must make it climate ready."

READ MORE: Key Scottish road to be shut for nearly two weeks after landslides

The professional body for civil engineers and a leading source of expertise in infrastructure and engineering policy, called for a task force to ensure Scotland’s existing infrastructure can withstand climate change.

HeraldScotland:

ICE Scotland director, Hannah Smith, said: “Climate change is already straining Scotland’s existing infrastructure, much of which wasn’t built to withstand the weather conditions increasingly being seen.

“As events throughout 2020 have shown, this leads to widespread disruption, costly repair bills and, most tragically of all, risks to life. This is why we can no longer wait to guarantee our infrastructure is as resilient as possible in the face of our climate emergency.”

It comes as one of Scotland's key routes to the Highlands is expected to be out of action till mid-November because of the latest of a series of landslips.

The landslip-plagued A83 at the Rest and be Thankful will remain closed as maintenancd firm BEAR Scotland ensure that the key route is protected.

It has been open for barely three weeks since August 4 when a landslip brought about by rain blocked the road.

Ministers have previously been accused of wasting nearly £80 million on more than a decade of failed solutions to over a decade of landslides on the road after the latest multiple slips in heavy rainfall.

Transport Scotland published details of the 11 "corridor options" for a new route to replace the landslip-prone section of the A83 include building up to three bridges or tunnels.

The issues with the A83 were among the "climate driven infrastructure events" outlined in the ICE Scotland analysis with a warning that things will only get worse.

HeraldScotland:

It said that while mitigation work, including netting and barriers have "reduced the negative impact of events to some extent" further landslides "raised the importance of a permanent solution".

"Climate change will result in higher rainfall and more frequent extreme weather events, therefore the risk of landslip activity is likely to increase," they said. "The rural communities that the road serves are calling for a more reliable transport link, allowing their businesses to run more efficiently and to bring greater peace of mind in times of extreme weather."

ICE Scotland’s public voice committee chairman Jim Young, added: “Programmes of retrofitting and adaptation will not only ensure our infrastructure is fit for purpose, but when done the right way infrastructure adaption can make places better to live in, work in and visit.

READ MORE: £80m 'wasted' over multiple failed fixes to iconic A83 Rest and Be Thankful

“However, without urgent action we risk a series of infrastructure failures that would hurt the economy, be costly to resolve, and threaten the safety and wellbeing of infrastructure users. We must act quickly to adapt and retrofit our infrastructure so it is resilient to these impacts and can continue to perform.”

Engineering consulants COWI who have worked on a series of projects across Scotland involving landslide remediation said heavy rainfall is one of the biggest problems we’ve seen this year, causing landslides and flooding which have had devastating consequences for Scotland’s towns and cities.

Alistair Kean, environmental director at COWI said: "Resilience to climate change is paramount, which means designing for climate change and accelerating the upgrade of ageing infrastructure. Our future infrastructure must be built with minimal construction emissions, operate in a manner consistent with net zero and be able to withstand the harsh new climate we now live in.

"This change is a must-have and is an exciting challenge our young engineers are grasping. This is all about partnerships and collaboration to maximise the benefits of future engineering projects for the climate, biodiversity and society as well as the economy."

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Recent events are a sharp reminder of the need to adapt our transport network to the effects of severe weather. Climate change will increase both the intensity and frequency of storms, flooding and high winds. Regardless of the real progress being made in decarbonising the transport network, adaptation of existing vital infrastructure will still be essential.

“A lot has been done but Transport Scotland has identified the need for climate change mitigation and adaptation as a central plank in the recently published National Transport Strategy which sets out the vison for the next decades."