Hot, dry and growing: New research reveals Cambridgeshire's greatest challenge over the next 30 years
The East of England faces critical challenges to its growth and prosperity over the next two decades, as temperatures hit record highs, rainfall decreases, and over 720,000 new residents move to the area, according to a new independent report by Anglian Water.
Commissioned with Capital Economics, the report, entitled ‘Thriving East’, shows that the challenges facing the East of England are some of the most severest in the country, second only to London. Crucially, it outlines how the region can get ahead of these challenges, by investing now and building resilience for the future, allowing the region to thrive.
At a local level, a changing climate will be the biggest challenge Cambridgeshire faces. Temperatures will be hotter than the national average, and projections from the Met Office show record low rainfall, at 1.9mm per day – less than anywhere else in the UK.
The city of Cambridge is fast-growing, with a predicted population rise of 6% by 2043, and home to the largest commercial research and development centre in Europe. As a county, Cambridgeshire contains some of the UK’s most fertile agricultural land, and lots of it: 79% of it is farmland, as compared to a national average of 63% in England. All these sectors are dependent on investment into the region’s infrastructure, most critically water resources, to enable them to grow and prosper.
As part of its recently submitted business plan, Anglian Water is proposing a record £9 billion of much-needed investment in its region between 2025 and 2030, including more than £218 million of investment into Cambridgeshire and Peterborough specifically. The plan will see the water company create 7,000 jobs across the East of England, as it looks to ensure the future environmental and social resilience of the region.
In Cambridgeshire, work will continue towards planning a new reservoir, north of Chatteris, which would supply water to around 250,000 homes. The company is also planning to extend its strategic pipeline – a regional water grid – by investing a further £71 million pipeline to transport water from the wetter north of its region to drier areas in the south and east, such as Cambridgeshire. These investments would help keep taps running for customers in Cambridgeshire for years to come and help the region to prosper.
Peter Simpson, chief executive officer of Anglian Water, said: “Our purpose is to bring environmental and social prosperity to the region we serve. Our region relies on water to facilitate economic growth, tourism, and to feed a significant part of the population.
“Our role is to facilitate growth and prosperity in the region through significant investment, with our most recent business plan for 2025-30 - our largest ever - outlining a proposed £9bn of essential investment in the region. This plan, created in consultation with regional stakeholders, is designed to address precisely the challenges Thriving East sets out.
“But to achieve this it will require close collaboration with local authorities, businesses, community groups and regulators to unlock opportunities for generations to come. We hope that this acts as a rallying cry to help bring together everyone who shares our ambition to capitalise on the many opportunities and in delivering a prosperous, thriving future for the region.”