UK heritage is most severely threatened by extreme weather

According to a new report, extreme weather, wildfires, and flooding jeopardise the future of nearly three-quarters of the sites managed by the National Trust.

Climate change is "the single greatest hazard" to the charity's 28,500 historic homes, 260,000 hectares of land, and 770 miles of coastline, according to the organisation.

The trust urged the United Kingdom government in its report released on Monday to increase its efforts in assisting organisations to adapt to climate change.

Patrick Begg, director of natural resources for the trust, stated that climate change posed "the greatest single threat to the locations in our care" and required "immediate and unwavering attention."

Using a cartographic approach, the trust is monitoring the threats that climate change poses to its historic properties, museum collections, parks, gardens, and land holdings. These threats include wildfires, flooding and downpours. 

The charity asserts that by anticipating the worst, it will be able to identify vulnerable areas throughout England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and employ insights gathered by local teams to assist in the adaptation process against the consequences of climate change. 

In response, the conservation organisation is intensifying its climate adaptation efforts, allocating millions of dollars to repair and safeguard certain sites while also determining where funds would be more efficiently allocated.

The trust is currently examining alternative methods of operation at Mullion Cove Harbour in Cornwall.

Constructed in the 1890s and positioned amidst precipitous cliffs, the two breakwaters of the harbour are subject to frequent and intense cyclones.

As a result, the trust is obligated to allocate over £2 million towards their restoration, of which over 80% has been spent since 1995 according to sources. Given the potential consequences of increasing sea levels, the trust may deem it impractical to proceed with significant repairs to one of the two breakwaters at this expense.

Catherine Lee, National Trust community manager on the Lizard Peninsula, informed sources that they no longer think the southern breakwater can be replicated. It's clear that fighting climate change is unsustainable. We must adapt to climate change.

Daily maintenance and repair of the western breakwater are coordinated by the trust and local volunteers.

The trust's historic structures and elegant homes require significant financial investment to protect from harsh weather. To protect its roof and gutters from extreme weather, Tudor house Coughton Court in Warwickshire is undergoing a £3.3 million renovation.

The country house staff has had to salvage leaky artworks and chandeliers. Storms in other locations have forced the trust to accept that climate adaptation may require concessions.

Research is being done with Aberystwyth University and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Three years of work at the site have shown that increasing precipitation is affecting hill fort erosion.

The National Trust is demanding more government funding and support to help landowners, heritage organisations, and tourism groups in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland adapt their structures, coastlines, and landscapes to climate change.

It also proposes that the UK government develop a Climate Resilience Bill that would oblige all public organisations to prioritise adaptation in their decision-making and set national adaptation targets.

The UK government's national adaptation initiative outlines a five-year plan to strengthen resilience to climate change risks to historic monuments, coastline, and countryside.