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Terrafirma increase expertise as Bank of England climate financial stress-testing begins

The release of the Bank of England (BoE) regulatory climate stress testing has raised awareness of critical transition and physical ground risks across the financial sector. As market innovators in ground risk assessment for the conveyancing market, Terrafirma has moved to further strengthen its team of geologists, scientists and geohazard specialists within its climate-risk modelling division for mortgage lending and property insurance.

Terrafirma's new appointments will augment its expert insight across a broad range of ground hazards, including coastal erosion, soil subsidence, landslides, and mining to accurately model and assess the potential impact on the built environment both now, and in the future. This allows lenders and insurers to better understand their financial exposure to particular ground hazards, to make more informed decisions upfront.

Uniquely the National Ground Risk Model: Climate™ (NGRM: Climate) shows four climate emission scenarios, meaning every postcode has a hazard rating derived from its local geology and from climate projections for every decade between 2020s and 2080s.

Geospatial Data Scientist, Dr Tim Farewell who oversees the development of the NGRM: Climate following almost two decades researching and modelling soil movement, and other ground hazards for the insurance and water industries, said:

“I am really excited to add to an already awesome science division at Terrafirma. Between the group they have a wealth of knowledge and unrivalled expertise in the geological and geospatial sciences, and each have a personal passion to help property professionals and financial organisations better understand the risk to property from ground hazards in a changing climate.

Our approach has found favour among conveyancers as they see value in relying on the opinion of professionals and academics who not only understand the data and latest modelling techniques, but also the complexity of these physical hazards and the risk they pose to property.”

To support this key area of their business, Terrafirma is pleased to announce the following appointments: Lee Taylor as Senior Geotechnical Manager. For the past decade, Lee has worked for global design, planning and engineering company, Arup as an engineering geologist and geohazard specialist. He joins Terrafirma with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the management of ground risk for design, construction, and design life of a variety of projects, including buildings, infrastructure, and planning.

Lee specialises in geological and geomorphological mapping, remote sensing, and the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to develop visualisations of existing ground conditions and active geological processes. His experience covers a variety of infrastructure and building projects, including linear infrastructure (flood protection, onshore and nearshore pipelines, nearshore and offshore cables, tunnels, highways, and railways), renewable and non-renewable energy assets, master planning projects and individual development sites.

Terrafirma’s on-going research and development, and growing team helps more banks, building societies and insurers have access to cutting-edge knowledge and techniques, along with access to world leading academics in their field, some who have contributed to intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) reports.

Climate scientist, Hamish Wilkinson joins as a Spatial Data Analyst, expanding Terrafirma’s capability to develop more accurate modelling. Recent master’s graduate, Sam Grant also joins as Spatial Data Analyst, with the aim to further improve the detail and usability of reports and data. The NGRM: Climate now has improved climatic resolution to 1km2 and includes the Isle of Man.

Nicolien van Zwieten makes up the science team in the role of Geoscience Researcher drawing on her experience working as a GIS analyst helping to address biodiversity loss. She communicates ground risks to the wider public, using the latest GIS tools to analyse and support awareness of climate-related risks.

As reported in the recent Climate Change Committee risk assessment (CCRA3), the overall level of climate risk has increased since the last assessment in 2016 and “climate change is outstripping actions”. This will continue to increase the exposure of the UK’s economy over the next century. The number of properties at risk of exposure to coastal hazards will increase due to the increased coastal erosion rates. Soil degradation caused by heavy rainfall events will increase the risk profile to slope stability hazards. At the other extreme, summers are expected to become hotter and drier directly affecting soil moisture. This will directly alter the built environment, notably from increased subsidence risk on clay soils that are susceptible to shrink-swell (volumetric changes).

NGRM: Climate was updated recently to provide lenders with all the ground data and information recommended by the Bank of England’s CFRF guide. Speak to Dr Tim Farewell to understand how ground hazards like subsidence, coastal erosion and sinkholes will exacerbate through different decades, and ultimately how these risks affect insurance and lending portfolios. Contact Tim via email at: timfarewell@terrafirmasearch.co.uk to discuss the future of ground risk and to arrange a free demo.