The UKCP018 (UK Climate Projection 18) projections of future change (measured relative to a 1981-2000 baseline for temperature and precipitation and a 1980-1999 baseline for sea-level rise) for Northern Ireland if high emissions continue are:
- increase in mean winter temperature very likely to be between 0.1-2.2 ºC by 2060-2079
- increase in mean summer temperature very likely to be between 0.0-2.8 ºC by 2060-2079
- change in winter mean precipitation very likely to be between -3% drier to 17% wetter by 2060-2079
- change in summer mean precipitation very likely to be between 28% drier to 6% wetter by 2060-2079
- sea level around the UK is predicted to rise under all emission pathways (Though this will be highest in the SE of England)
These are issues which may have significant implications for heritage assets over coming years, with the potential to speed up and exacerbate many decay mechanisms.
Impacts may include:
- structural damage to heritage assets;
- the undermining of structures;
- loss of coastal heritage through rising sea levels;
- the exposure and erosion of archaeological sites;
- the collapse of unstable masonry elements.
- the loss of some historic landscape features;
- the decay of building fabric caused by increased saturation;
- microbiological growth in interiors and
- increased corrosion of metal elements.
There may also be a risk posed by responses to the issue such as inappropriate energy efficiency or rainfall adaptation or even inadvertent damage in response to threats like fire or flood.
So what are DfC Historic Environment Division (HED) doing to respond to this issue?
The Department recognises the importance of adaption to and mitigation against Climate Change impacts and in 2020, set up a Climate Change working group which is finalising a Climate Change Action Plan for 2021-2022. HED has also set up its own climate change team and this work feeds back into the DfC Climate change action plan.
Further work includes:
- DfC has contributed to the Northern Ireland Climate Change Adaption Programme 2019- 2024.
- DfC has increased its engagement with heritage agencies dealing with this issue across UK and Ireland.
- Ministers have signed a North-South Memorandum of Understanding on Climate Action and Cultural Heritage
- The Department has the policy lead for heritage, working with colleagues across other departments and within local government to identify and address Climate Change impacts on cultural heritage and shared challenges or opportunities. The Department has engaged with District Councils through their Community Planning process to advise them of the potential of the Historic Environment and are working with a number of councils as they produce plans to develop their heritage including steps to consider the future impacts of climate change.
- In March 2021 a joint meeting was held between the Historic Buildings Council and Historic Monuments Council to share and highlight issues affecting the historic environment in Northern Ireland as a result of Climate Change.
- DfC is finalising an Action Plan for Climate Change for 2021-2022. HED is also creating a more specific Action Plan for identification of, adaptation to and mitigation against Climate Change Impacts on Heritage Assets in Northern Ireland.
- By maintaining ‘The List’ of Historic Buildings of Special Interest, and the Schedule of Historic Monuments, as well as maintaining and continually updating the Historic Environment Record of Northern Ireland, which contains thematic records of all of NI’s recorded heritage assets, the Department makes every effort to ensure that the historic environment in Northern Ireland is recognised and protected. These records are extensive and include the Register of Parks and Gardens, the Industrial Heritage Record and the Defence Heritage Record amongst others.
- DfC already identifies and protects a wide range of historic assets through designation and policy. As statutory consultees within the planning process the Department is a statutory consultee in relation to works to or in the setting of heritage assets, which helps prevent against inappropriate development; the Department also provides best practice guidance and advice on the repair and maintenance of heritage assets in Northern Ireland. This includes identifying buildings and structures which are at risk – one of those risks being the impacts of climate change.
- In partnership with our sister agencies across the UK and lead by the National Trust, a Climate change Hazard Map Tool has been created to help custodians of heritage assets to identify the risks associated with climate change for example to their building, monument or historic garden. This hexigrid mapping tool also allows forecasting into the future, which means that consideration can be given to long term strategies to adapt to climate change hazards where they may arise.
- The Department is a significant owner/ custodian of heritage assets - State Care Monuments. HED is carrying out Climate Change Risk Assessments across our own estate. Evaluation of climate change issues for the state care monuments is to be embedded in the quinquennial condition surveys, and within the Investment Programme proposals that are being developed.
- Through cyclical monitoring, HED is also gathering data on condition and risk scoring for Scheduled Monuments.
- HED are currently considering the Drafting of an Action Plan for identifying, adaptation to and mitigating against climate change Impacts on heritage assets in Northern Ireland. This may include proposed strategies for creating a condition baseline for future monitoring the rate of climate change impacts. It proposes using information gathered by HED to make recommendations about adaptation to and mitigation methods to others as guidance. This information ranges from LIDAR to the ground visual inspection. It will also involve consultation with our historic environment stakeholders.
- There are particular facets of older buildings and monuments which often lead to them responding differently than newer structures to climate change, their special status also means that there are variations in how buildings and monuments should be adapted to mitigate against climate change for example to improve energy efficiency. HED works with sister organisations across the UK and Ireland to understand how best to address these impacts, and share knowledge.
- The Department is responsible for collating progress reports against the Executive’s Protocol for the Care of the Government Historic Estate, and the current report which is being collated will ask for Departments to consider how they are managing their estate in relation to possible climate change impacts and planned mitigations.
- The Division is also reviewing, with CPD and others, whether the BREEAM standard currently being used in a number of construction projects would provide a suitable mechanism to embed climate change considerations within projects. The standard covers many different elements, including climate change, and is already being used as the basis for some NI public sector projects.
Strategic Climate Change documents for the Heritage Sector
- Historic Environment Scotland - Climate Change
- Historic England – Climate Change Adaptation Report
- Historic Environment and Climate Change in Wales Sector Adaptation Plan
- Adapting to Climate Change – CADW 2020 Update (Wales)
- Built and Archaeological Heritage Climate Change Sectoral Plan by the Government of Ireland
- UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 Evidence Report Summary for Northern Ireland
- Historic Environment Scotland Climate Risk Assessment for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site
- Paris Agreement
- Climate Heritage Network
- Climate change - International Council on Monuments and Sites (icomos.org)
- Impacts of Climate Change | Historic England
- Climate Change | Lead Public Body for Scotland's Historic Environment
- Climate Change | Cadw (gov.wales)
Policy and Legislation
- Climate NI UK Climate Change Adaptation Policy
- Climate NI Adaptation in Northern Ireland
- Northern Ireland Climate Change Adaptation Plan
Strategic documents which guide climate change policy
- The Regional Development Strategy (RDS 2035) for Northern Ireland, section RG11 describes the need to conserve, protect and, where possible, enhance our built heritage and natural environment, including protection form the impacts of climate change.
- The Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS) for Northern Ireland ‘Planning for Sustainable Development’, published in 2015.
- The NI Outcomes Delivery Plan 2018-19 is the highest level strategic document of the NI Civil Service - providing a direction for the work of government as set out by the Executive in the form of the draft Programme for Government. The Outcomes Delivery Plan contains 12 strategic outcomes which have been identified as making the greatest difference to people’s lives and wellbeing.
- New Decade, New Approach - January 2020
- Baseline Study and Gap Analysis of Coastal Erosion Risk Management NI | Department for Infrastructure (infrastructure-ni.gov.uk)
- Refining broad-scale vulnerability assessment of coastal archaeological resources, Lough Foyle, Northern Ireland — Ulster University
- Assessing the impact of coastal erosion on archaeological sites: a case study from Northern Ireland — Ulster University
- MCCIP - Marine Climate Change Impacts: Report Card 2020
- Impacts of climate change on cultural heritage – MCCIP
- How to Improve Energy Efficiency - Historic England
- Short Guide: Fabric Improvements for Energy Efficiency in Traditional Buildings (HES)
- Historic Environment Scotland Advice on Energy Efficiency in Traditional Buildings
- Retrofit for Energy Efficiency - Case studies by Historic Environment Scotland
- Energy Efficiency and Traditional Buildings - SPAB
- Heritage Council Ireland – Fundamentals of Energy Renovation for Traditional Buildings
- Energy Efficiency for Historic Buildings Parts I and II – Historic England
- Retrofit of Traditional Buildings for Energy Efficiency – Historic England
- Retrofitting of Traditional Buildings - IHBC
- Energy saving advice for your home – Historic England
- The Pebble Trust – Sustainable Renovation
- Deep Energy Renovation of Traditional Buildings in Ireland
- Heritage and Energy Conservation – CIOB
- BREEAM as a tool for sustainable refurbishment
Installation of renewable energy sources in listed buildings
- Historic England - Low and Zero Carbon (LCZ) Technologies
- Historic England – Solar Electric (photovoltaics)
- Historic England – Heat Pumps
- Historic England - Generating Energy (micro - renewables)
- Historic England - Micro-hydroelectric power and the historic environment
- Installation Of Micro-generation into Historic Buildings - Cadw