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Urgent change is needed after Storm Babet causes widespread damage, says National Trust

by | 24 Oct 23 | Nature & Biodiversity, News

In the wake of storm Babet’s widespread damage across the UK landscape, the National Trust warns this was just a taste of things to come.

Persistent rainfall late last week and into the weekend saw water levels across the country rising, impacting properties in the Midlands and North East of England.

With damages caused to landscapes, houses and gardens cared for by the National Trust still being accessed, the costs of repairs could amount to tens of thousands of pounds, says the charity.

“We know that one of the consequences of climate change will be the frequency of more extreme weather events, and we experienced the direct impact of the prolonged levels of rainfall and high winds on our places last week,” says Harry Bowell, head of land and nature.

Over a 48-hour period last week, water flowed down the hillsides of Cragside in Northumberland, the first house in the world to be powered by hydro-electricty, causing the River Coquet’s water levels to rise from its usual 0.4m to 3.27m, causing temporary damage to the Archimedes Screw.

In the Peak District, rainwater encumbered the river networks, causing flooding and widespread erosion of public footpaths, while causing damage to fences, walls and bridges.

Repair works at Longshaw have been underway for more than 82 hours, as well as work to explore ways to build more resilient infrastructure to better manage against future weather conditions.

“If we restore peatlands, plant and allow the natural regeneration of more trees, and improve soil health here we can help to store and slow the flow of water into our rivers, streams and reservoirs,”says Craig Best, general manager in the Peak District.

“We need to ensure the importance of restoring our uplands, for nature and for people, is recognised, and secure investment to carry out the work needed.”

The clear-up operations across the charity’s sites could take several weeks, and could potentially be impacted by further rainfall.

Donations to help towards the clear up work and ongoing conservation work to protect National Trust places from the impacts of climate change can be made via the National Trust website.

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