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KJSA logoWider factors including the physical environment and climate change, emergency preparedness, and accidents

Physical environment: Headlines

The world’s climate is changing because of increased carbon dioxide (carbon emissions) in the atmosphere. The health and wellbeing of vulnerable people could be challenged by extreme weather conditions. Impacts could include: heat stroke, hypothermia, musculoskeletal problems and respiratory infections. Reducing carbon emissions will improve the health and wellbeing of people vulnerable to climate change.

In the home, 1 in 4 households struggles to pay their energy bills, and the energy efficiency of private homes in Kirklees is much less than council homes. Single occupancy car journeys continue to be the dominant mode for journeys in Kirklees, and over-reliance on the car represents a major threat to not only climate change but a range of other health and wellbeing issues, especially obesity and accidents. Air quality and noise also affect the local physical environment in Kirklees and impact on the health and wellbeing of our residents (see transport and access to services section for more detail).

Currently, we are not utilising the full potential of the natural environment: whether inspiring and encouraging people to be more active, exploiting its economic potential or in making the district more resilient to climate change.

Physical environment: Why is this issue important? 

The world’s changing climate presents unprecedented and potentially catastrophic risks to health and wellbeing including increased mortality, disability and injury from extreme temperature and weather conditions, and effects on mental health of flooding, increasing energy costs and other climate related events1.

This is not only a global issue, but also a local one. Projections for Yorkshire and the Humber show that these changes will lead to increased temperatures, decreased summer rainfall and increased winter rainfall over the next 80 years2. The major impacts of these changes for Kirklees by 2050 will include:

  • Increased flooding (winter and summer high intensity surface water run-off).

  • Increased storm intensity and frequency.

  • More heat waves. Average daily temperature increase by approx. 2.3°C.

  • Drought problems. Decreases in summer rainfall by 19%.

In Kirklees we have seen an increase in extreme weather events. The effects caused by this have included:

  • Storm damage to properties in parts of Kirklees, with wind speeds up to 90mph in November 2009.

  • Snow and ice during January, February and November 2010 and 2011 which disrupted the transport network and caused traffic congestion. It also disrupted Local Authority services, such as bin collections, affected health services due to the cancelling of all routine and non-emergency appointments, and emergency vehicles access and transport of those needing medical support. At the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary there was an 80% rise in admissions due to slips and trips on ice and an 80% increase in fractures during severe cold and snow in January 20103. Over the last three years excess winter deaths have averaged over 170 in Kirklees, eight extra hospital admissions are associated with each excess winter death due to cold and damp related illness11.

  • Severe flooding in the summer of 2007 with up to 100mm of rainfall in 24 hours.

  • Heat waves in Kirklees reaching record highs of 31°C in the summer of 2003. 

Creating a sustainable low carbon future is entirely compatible with action to reduce health inequalities. Sustainable local communities, active transport, sustainable food production, and zero-carbon houses will have health benefits across society4 (p.18).

Physical environment: What significant factors are affecting this issue?

Physical environment: What significant factors are affecting this issue? 

Human activity is now widely agreed to be the cause of the rapid and unnatural changes in the climate, due to the amount of greenhouse gases produced, especially carbon dioxide (CO2, often shortened to carbon)1. Key to addressing the issue is the need to reduce our emissions across Kirklees and the need to adapt to the effects of a changing climate.

Energy use in the home

Domestic energy use contributes to climate change and accounts for 38% of energy use in Kirklees. About two thirds of domestic use is for heating and hot water, with more than half of heating being lost in poorly insulated homes2.

When a householder spends more than 10% of their income on energy bills, they are considered to be fuel poor, so that they cannot afford to heat their home properly. This results in living in cold, damp housing, which can cause or aggravate serious health conditions, especially in the old and very young, particularly cardiovascular illness, COPD and mental health issues4 (p.80). The Kirklees Warm Zone programme has helped to address fuel poverty and climate change by offering help to every household to improve energy efficiency. By the end of July 2010 Warm Zone had reached 135,816 households. 


In Kirklees, transportation accounts for 20% of CO2 emissions2. Car travel in Huddersfield is the dominant mode, however it fell slightly from a 61.1% mode share in 2007, to 59.2% in 2010.  Buses and trains account for 22.9% and 10.2% of journeys respectively whilst only 6.9% of journeys are by foot and 0.8% by cycle or motorcycle10. 

Land use and the natural environment

As increasing oil prices push up the cost of food, concerns over food security (the availability of food and a person’s access to it) and food poverty are rising. Developing sustainable food systems such as community gardens, allotments, city farms, smallholdings, community supported agricultural (CSA) schemes and land trusts all are required. Many of our natural assets are underutilised. Our woodlands are mainly unmanaged, our rivers – which are now much cleaner – are not used for recreation, the run-off from our urban areas and agricultural land continue to contribute to increased flood risk, and some of our urban environments are eyesores which are a disincentive to investment. The Council has direct control over some of these areas and can influence those where we don’t by ensuring sustainable land management is a priority.

Physical environment: Which groups are affected most by this issue? 

A changing climate will affect all our communities and will have significant implications on some key individuals in Kirklees. The obvious risks are short term to the health of vulnerable people, for example older people, people in poor housing conditions, people with long-term health conditions, and infants. Such risks are heat stroke on hot days and cold related health conditions which may lead to excess winter deaths. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders, cardiovascular disease, mobility and falls, and mental health illness are all exacerbated by cold and damp housing. In the long term, food poisoning, disease threats and more insect borne diseases could also be exacerbated due to an increase in summer temperatures and milder winters. The effects of flooding can have a major impact on people’s lives, including the long-term dislocation of people, the need to re-home and deal with the aftermath of a flood, and consequently their health and wellbeing.

Physical environment: Where is this causing greatest concern?

Physical environment: Where is this causing greatest concern? 


The Kirklees Strategic Flood Risk Assessment identified and analysed current and future broad scale flooding issues for key locations in Kirklees, such as along the River Colne from Huddersfield to Dewsbury. It provides support for further assessment of planning applications and proposed development allocations within those areas6. Assessment of reservoir stability is also undertaken.

Fuel poverty6

The lowest energy efficiency ratings of homes across Kirklees are found in those built pre-1919, which includes many terraces (both back-to-back and through terraces), located mainly in older urban areas and stone cottages and detached houses in rural areas. Few homes pre-1919 have a cavity wall and some do not have a loft and are “hard to treat” homes. Poorer households living in these homes are more likely to struggle to afford to heat their homes.

Physical environment: Views of local people

Physical environment: Views of local people

In 2009, a climate change attitudes survey was carried out across Kirklees in which the survey sample was self-selecting, so not necessarily representative of Kirklees8. Even so:

  • 3 out of 4 (74%) thought that their everyday actions contributed to climate change.
  • Future impacts such as flooding, increased rainfall and increased poor air quality were of higher concern than hotter and drier summers (which were often perceived as a positive impact).
  • Females were more concerned about climate change than males.

In 2012, the Current Living in Kirklees (CLiK) survey9 identified that 10% of residents would require help to leave their home if asked to evacuate during an emergency e.g. flooding. Of the 10%, most respondents were aged over 65 on their last birthday. Additionally, the highest proportions of respondents requiring help to leave their home were based in North Kirklees in areas with a high flood risk.

Physical environment: What could commissioners and service planners consider?

Physical environment: What could commissioners and service planners consider? 
  • Improving energy use and efficiency across the domestic sector, including greater investment in, and public awareness of, renewable energy production.
  • Work to influence travel behaviour and promote more sustainable and active modes is needed to reduce dependence on private cars, and in particular single-occupancy car journeys.  In parallel, work to address the cost barriers (perceived or actual) to using public transport needs to be undertaken, particularly for young people, job seekers and part-time workers.
  • More work is needed to ensure that Kirklees is fully prepared for the effects of flooding as much of Kirklees is within high risk flood zones.
  • Better understanding about how we manage agricultural land, make provision for long-term affordable food security, forestry, green spaces and wildlife habitats in Kirklees to help mitigate climate change.
  • Action is needed to develop further sustainable waste management practices across the business sector, reducing the amount of waste produced and maximising re-use and recycling across Kirklees.
  • Collectively, Kirklees businesses and public sector organisations have the potential to make carbon (and potentially cost) savings via local sourcing or joint working.
  • There is a need to develop skills for low carbon living and working locally so that communities are skilled to be able to adapt to a changing climate.

Many of these issues are covered in the “Decision Making Questions” of the Health Impact Assessment Framework of the Council’s Core Strategy – which is Appendix 23 of the Sustainability Appraisal. 

Physical environment: References

Physical environment: References 
  1. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2007 - The Physical Science Basis: Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC; 2007.
  2. Yorkshire and Humber Assembly. Yorkshire and Humber Climate Change Adaptation Study; 2009.
  3. West Yorkshire Adaptation Action Plan. Association of West Yorkshire Authorities; 2010.
  4. Marmot M. Fair Society, Healthy Lives: Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England Post 2010; 2010. Available from:
  5. Kirklees Council Strategic Investment Service. Kirklees Travel to Work Survey; 2008.
  6. Kirklees Council. Kirklees Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA); November 2008.
  7. Kirklees Council. Kirklees Private Sector Housing Stock Condition Survey 2010.
  8. Kirklees Council Environment Unit. Climate Change Research Project; 2009.
  9. Kirklees Council Current Living in Kirklees (CLiK) Survey 2012.
  10. Metro Facts 2009 / 2010.
  11. Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory Data Bites, Excess Winter Deaths; September 2011. Available from: 

Physical environment: Date this section was last reviewed

09/07/2013 (PL)

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 Emergency preparedness: Headlines

Emergencies can happen at any time, and often happen without notice. Whilst we cannot predict them we are able to respond to emergencies and limit their impact on health in Kirklees. Emergencies disproportionately affect those with existing health conditions and those with a low income, so taking action on these issues will reduce the impact of emergencies.

Emergency preparedness: Why is this issue important?

A major incident or an emergency is any event or occurrence that requires organisations to put in place special arrangements in order to continue to meet the needs of the population.

During an emergency, the existing needs of the population continue, as detailed elsewhere in this JSNA, but additional needs arise as a direct consequence of the incident. Different groups of people across Kirklees are vulnerable to the impact of different incidents. 1 in 4 people (25%) would expect to rely on the NHS for support following an emergency, with a similar number (22%) likely to rely on the Council1. In an emergency like a flood that might involve evacuation of homes, about 1 in 10 people would need help to leave their homes, but this rises to 2 in 5 (43%) for people who describe their health in general as “very bad”1.

Kirklees Council and the NHS prepare for and respond to incidents through the West Yorkshire Resilience Forum, which brings together the Police, Fire and Rescue Service, Ambulance Service, the NHS, Local Authorities and a large number of other partners. This Partnership Forum ensures a co-ordinated response to any incident, and is the focus for preparedness activity across West Yorkshire.

In 2010, the fire at the Grosvenor Chemicals manufacturing facility near Linthwaite tested our response to a major incident. Other than this, Kirklees has been fortunate in the low number of incidents recorded in the borough. We run incident tests or exercises every year to make sure we remain prepared.

Major risks in Kirklees

The West Yorkshire Resilience Forum has a robust system for the identification of risks and has a local risk register. The Community Risk Register identifies pandemic influenza, flooding and heavy snow as the highest risks.

Emergency preparedness: What significant factors are affecting this issue?

Pandemic influenza2

An influenza pandemic results from the development of a novel strain of influenza, which can spread rapidly in humans.

People have limited or no resistance to the new strain. The 2009 swine flu pandemic resulted from a new strain of Influenza A that was first observed in Mexico. For most of the population, swine flu turned out to be a mild strain giving only limited health effects, but for some vulnerable members of the community, including young people, pregnant women and those with pre-existing neurological conditions, the effects were more severe (see infectious disease section).

The next pandemic could occur at any time and could be far more harmful than swine flu. Different pandemic strains affect different parts of the population differently, and it is not possible to determine in advance who will be most vulnerable to the health effects of a new pandemic strain. Health and social care services need to maintain their preparedness to respond to a pandemic and maintain the flexibility to deliver a response that is proportionate to the risk that a particular virus creates.


The likelihood of major flooding in Kirklees is low but the impact on the community and infrastructure could be significant. As a result, the West Yorkshire Resilience Forum has developed local plans. The West Yorkshire multiagency flood plan lists the roles and responsibilities for each organisation to ensure a co-ordinated response.

The greatest health risks associated with flooding are drowning, accidents and injuries due to moving water and concealed hazards. Longer term health consequences of flooding can include mental health issues associated with traumatic experiences and displacement of populations. The main area of concern for NHS Kirklees is to ensure patients continue to have access to health services in their time of need.

People who live in low lying areas or in river basins are most at risk from flooding. The Environment Agency provides further details on flood warnings and offers practical advice on preparing your home or business for flooding. This information can be found here:

Heavy snow4

Three of the last four winters have seen heavier snowfalls than has been typical for the last 20 years. During November 2010, West Yorkshire experienced heavy snowfalls that caused major disruption to public transport and road traffic. This resulted in large numbers of NHS staff being unable to attend work and increased the pressures on health services. Those who were able to make it to work found it increasingly difficult to travel to see patients at home. Patient transport to hospitals was also disrupted. Those most at risk from severe weather include those who have limited mobility and anyone who struggles to keep warm at home for whatever reason during the winter.


The London Bombings in 2005 were the most recent terrorist attack in the UK. Hundreds of people were directly injured by the attacks but many more were affected by their experiences that day and in the days that followed.

Whilst much has been done to minimise the risk of future attacks on the country, if one was to be successful, the impact may be catastrophic. Immediate health needs of those affected vary with proximity to the attack, but long-term health needs resulting from terrorism can have an impact over a larger area.

The threat of terrorism extends across the country, and it is important that West Yorkshire is prepared to respond in order to mitigate the effects of an attack.

Our emergency plans

NHS and Public Health organisations throughout Kirklees have plans to respond to emergencies when they do occur. The Council’s emergency plans are described at:

Emergency preparedness: What could commissioners and service planners consider?

In an emergency, some healthcare services will be more busy than usual, like Accident and Emergency Departments, but some can be temporarily reduced in order to release staff to meet urgent care demand. Others need to maintain business as usual. All healthcare services commissioned by the NHS or the Council need to be able to operate effectively in order to meet the differing needs of people during emergencies.

In addition, a very small number of health services or capabilities are commissioned specifically to respond to emergencies, such as the Hazardous Area Response Team run by Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Emergency preparedness: References

  1. Current Living in Kirklees (CLiK) Survey; 2012.
  2. Hine D. The 2009 Influenza Pandemic. Cabinet Office; July 2010.
  3. Pitt M. Learning Lessons from the 2007 Floods. Cabinet Office; June 2008.
  4. Quarmby et al. The Resilience of England’s Transport Systems in Winter. Department of Transport; October 2010.

Emergency preparedness: Date this section was last reviewed

09/07/2013 (PL)

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Accidents: Headlines

Accidents claimed the lives of 13,861 people in the UK in 2009. Roughly three times as many people suffered a serious, life-changing injury as were killed. Accidental injury was one of the main causes of death for children aged 1-15.

Home remained the most common site for accidents, particularly for young children and older people. Children under the age of five were one of the groups most vulnerable to home accidents. The level of deprivation people experience also increased the probability of having an accident.

There was a downward trend locally in road casualties with 1,461 recorded in Kirklees. The falling casualty total was distributed across all road user groups except for cyclist and motorcyclist. The number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) in the district increased by 14% in 2011. The largest number of KSI casualties was recorded amongst car occupants (39%) and pedestrians (29%). A total of five people were killed on Kirklees roads in 2011.

Falls were the most frequent and serious type of accident in people aged 65 and over. Each year, almost 1 in 4 people aged over 65, and 2 in 5 over 85, fell at least once. Many of these falls were preventable.

Accidents: Why is this issue important?

Every year in the UK, 1 million children under the age of 15 are taken to accident and emergency (A&E) units after injuries occur in the home. Many more are treated at home or by their GP.1

The vast majority of accidents do not result in death. Many people across the country are injured each year as a result of accidents, and a significant proportion of these injuries are life changing. These are untimely, often violent, events which blight families and communities but their effects are rarely measured in terms of their wider social and health impacts, including poverty and deprivation.2

Falls destroy confidence, increase isolation and reduce independence. For older people, a fall can hasten a move into residential care. After a hip fracture, 50 per cent of people can no longer live independently.3 The after-effects of even the most minor fall can be catastrophic for an older person’s physical and mental health. Fear of falling again, among older people and those who care for them, reduces quality of life and well-being, even if a fall does not result in serious consequences.

Accidents: What significant factors are affecting this issue?

There were significant inequalities in death and injury from accidents. Children of parents who were long-term unemployed or who had never worked were 13 times more likely to die as a result of unintentional injury and 37 times more likely to die from exposure to smoke, fire or flames than children of parents in higher managerial or professional occupations.4

More people die from accidents at home than on the roads. In the UK, injuries that occur in and around the home were the most common cause of death in children over the age of one.1

Speeding traffic was the greatest contributory factor to accident frequency and severity. Children in the 10% most deprived areas of the UK were five times more likely to die as a pedestrian than children in less deprived areas, partly because they have fewer safe places to play and may walk more as their parents do not own a car.5

Accidents: Which groups are most affected by this issue?


Unintentional injury to children is a major cause of avoidable ill health, disability and death and has a disproportionately large effect on people in deprived communities. Accidents involving children are a leading cause of childhood mortality in England. In England and Wales in 2009, 193 children aged 0-14 died as a result of an accident. Children under 5 were more vulnerable to injuries at home; over 11s were more vulnerable to injuries on the road. School age children were still the most at risk group of all pedestrian ages with 204 injuries per 100,000 population.6

Accidents in the home included burns or scalds, with hot drinks being the most frequent cause of injuries. 304.48 per 100,000 children aged 0 to 16 from Kirklees attended A&E for burns and scalds during 2008/09 and 2010/11.1

However, house fires caused the most accidental deaths of children in the home. Most of these were because of smoke inhalation. In 2009, there were 262 dwelling fires with three deaths in Kirklees.7

Young people

A total of 222 pedestrians were injured in Kirklees in 2011 against 228 last year. The steady downward trend in pedestrian casualties slowed down and levelled off in the last four years. The number of pedestrian casualties reduced amongst all age groups apart from 16 to 19 and 20 to 29.5

Alcohol related accidents (including drink driving) were the leading cause of death for 16–24- year-olds. Young drivers aged 17-19 were ten times more likely to have a drink drive crash compared with drivers of all ages.5. During 2009, 16-29-year-olds accounted for 39% of all casualties on the roads in Kirklees, despite being only 19% of the local population. Across the UK, accidents were the principal cause of death until the age of 39.8

Older people

Nationally, more than 500,000 people over the age of 65 attended A&E after an accident in the home, 72 per cent of these were injured in falls. Nationally, people aged 75 and over had a death rate of 114 per 100,000 caused by accidents compared with a death rate of 21 per 100,000 in all age groups.3  The main cause of fatal accidents for those aged 65–74 were falls, traffic related accidents and fires. Men aged 65 and over were more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents as passengers and car drivers whereas women were more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents as car and bus passengers.5


Musculoskeletal conditions, including osteoporosis, bone fragility, fractures, and falls, accounted for more than 60% of longstanding illnesses in people aged over 65. Each year, almost 1 in 4 people aged over 65, and 2 in 5 over 85, fell at least once. Many of these falls were preventable.9 such falls can break a hip or other bone and then significantly impair physical functioning. The rate of hip fractures amongst older people locally was higher than nationally, rising with age to 1.6% in those aged 80 and over.10 Older men and older women in Kirklees were more likely to have an injury due to a fall, with women more likely than men (2.3% compared with 1.6%) and those men or women over 80 were even more likely (5.5%).9

Accidents: Where is this causing greatest concern?

For adults the areas of Huddersfield, Mirfield, and Denby Dale and Kirkburton had the highest number of road traffic accidents. However, residents were more likely to be injured in Dewsbury and Mirfield or Batley, Birstall and Birkenshaw . These areas were in the top 20 postcodes in West Yorkshire for uninsured vehicles, young driver casualties and children being injured as pedestrians, car passengers and cyclists.

Accidents: Views of local people

Selected feedback from recipients of Safety in the Home scheme

‘Wasn't confident at all before having equipment - very confident now’

‘Equipment has been a real help initially refused cupboard locks but now has borrowed some from a friend’

‘Really confident when it comes to safety of child-benefited a lot from gate.

‘She uses equipment daily fireguard has been a blessing’

‘Thank you very much for providing us with safety gates and bath mat - they have been a godsend’

Selected Teacher/Staff feedback from Safety Rangers (year 5)

‘Children learn about all aspects of keeping themselves safe.’

‘This workshop activity is more powerful than just learning about it in the classroom.’

‘Excellent information given to the children, with real life situations they may be faced with and what they should do.’

‘It was a well-planned and enjoyable afternoon. The children took a lot away with them.’

Accidents: What could commissioners and service planners consider?

  • Continue to develop a more co-ordinated safety enforcement, promotion and education programme across key agencies (NHS, local authority, police and fire services) and client groups concerned, especially children, young people and older people.
  • Continue implementation of government actions to reduce childhood deaths and injuries in the Staying Safe Action Plan.
  • Develop further and differentiated opportunities to deliver safety training through the personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) framework for school age children.
  • Maintain and intensify the focus on safety in the home and fire safety (both of which have particular significance for young children) and safety on the roads (especially for secondary school aged children and young adults).
  • Continue targeted support for disadvantaged families through the home safety equipment scheme, which provides information and support to make homes safer environments.
  • Increase focus on reducing the risk factors for falls amongst older people, including using a range of data sources to identify those most at risk.
  • Improve the integration of injury prevention into health professional education curricula.
  • Address significant gaps in local and national data collection to improve understanding of the size and severity of unintentional injury.
  • Build stronger relationships with local people to help raise awareness of key local injury related problems and target common issues.

Accidents: References:

  1. Hospital Episode Statistics
  2. Marmot, M. Fair Society, Healthy Lives: Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England post 2010. 2010.
  3. Department of Health. Our Health and Wellbeing Today. 2010.
  4. Better Safe than Sorry - Preventing unintentional injury to children. Audit Commission. Report number: HNR3371, 2007.
  5. Kirklees District Road Casualties 2011
  6. Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) Accidents and child development. Report number: DCSF- 00255-2009, 2009.
  7. West Yorkshire Fire Service Statistics. 2009.
  8. Department for Transport. Tackling the road safety implications of disadvantage. April 2003.
  9. CLIK Survey, 2012.
  10. Donovan-Hall M and Francis K. Preventing Falls - Don’t Mention the F Word. Help the Aged. 2005.

Accidents: Date this section was last reviewed:

08/07/2013 (PL)