Climate change watch

HISTORIC buildings and landscapes in the North-East may be under threat from the impact of climate change.

HISTORIC buildings and landscapes in the North-East may be under threat from the impact of climate change.

The National Trust is carrying out a survey of all its UK coastal properties to come up with a list of those most under threat.

Experts have predicted that sea levels could rise by up to a metre by the end of the century, potentially threatening some of the region’s best known landscapes.

Lindisfarne Castle, the Farne Islands, St Aidan’s Dunes, Beadnell Dunes and many other historic sites and buildings which are all owned by the National Trust could be threatened. The sand dunes around Bamburgh Castle could also be badly damaged by rising sea levels.

Helen Clarke, North-East regional communications director for the National Trust, said: “We have several properties in the region and climate change is definitely something we are considering. We are in the early stages of carrying out assessments of what we can do. We will be assessing which sites are most under threat so we can plan for the future.” The Trust is calling for rules to be ‘tweaked’ to ensure these buildings are conserved for the future.

It is currently completing the survey of all its coastal land, which will highlight the top 50 ‘hotspots’ where rising sea levels would have the biggest impact. The report is due to be completed this summer.

There are already fears over the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland and other famous coastal spots around the British Isles. And it is not just historic coastal properties which could be under threat. Cragside, near Rothbury, Northumberland, Gibside in Gateshead and Wallington near Morpeth, in Northumberland, could also be changed if rainfall increases and temperatures rise.

Ms Clarke said: “As well as looking at how climate change may damage our properties, we are also looking at how we can reduce the carbon footprint of our land. There has to be a balance between conservation and heritage. It could be simple things like changing to low energy light bulbs or bigger things like solar panels. Of course, we would have to consider the aesthetics of any changes.”

Sarah Staniforth, the National Trust historic properties director, said: “We are really solution seeking. This year we had a number of flooding incidences at some of our houses.

“The torrential downpours we had last summer caused leaks into the houses simply because there wasn’t the capacity in the gutters to get the water off the roof. We are going to make changes to things like that in order to make the buildings more able to cope in the future.”

At present there are strict regulations about how historic and listed buildings can be maintained. Any work done to such buildings must be in keeping with the age and original design.

Ms Staniforth said: “Climate change is now impacting on historic buildings and it needs to be taken into account.”

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