After three weeks of almost constant sunshine and a confirmed heatwave I think we weather obsessed Brits can agree that it’s summer. However, an exclusively hot and sunny weather forecast did not prevent me taking a woolly hat, fleece, waterproof coat and extra duvet on my recent camping holiday, “just in case”! We often joke about our perceived national preoccupation with the weather but extreme weather conditions are a serious concern for some UK Central Government departments. I can verify that extreme heat and sunshine can be a problem after suffering heat exhaustion on the second day of my holiday (before you ask, I was not wearing the woolly hat, fleece, waterproof coat or duvet at the time!)
A quick search in the web archive revealed that the Department of Health (DH) first produced a ‘Heatwave Plan for England’ in 2004. The 2004 plan was first captured in the UK Government Web Archive on 28 June 2005.
The plan has been revised annually since 2004 and subsequent versions are also available through the web archive. For example, the 2007 version and the 2010 version. Interestingly, the publications pages on the archived versions of the Department of Health website which link to the plans also provide links to other information published by DH about heatwaves, for example this archived page from 2008. The introduction to the 2013 report, which is published on GOV.UK, states that due to climate change “temperatures reached in 2003 are likely to be a ‘normal’ summer by 2040”. I believe these archived documents will be of great interest to future researchers looking to investigate how the UK Government planned to deal with heatwave conditions.