Battle to defend Blackness Castle from flood threat

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What’s billed as a ground-breaking new report on climate change threat to historic sites flags up Blackness Castle as “high risk”.

The hugely popular fortress on the Forth is said to be in danger from natural hazards including coastal erosion and flooding - and has been treated to special defence measures.

Historic Environment Scotland says it has taken action by constructing a retaining shore-front wall to prevent damaging wave action.

The Climate Change Risk Assessment Report comes at a time when visitor figures are soaring at the castle, which is among an elite band of local sites benefiting from a tourism surge sparked by TV fantasy drama Outlander.

Now it is one of four special case studies highlighted by HES, which says it’s vital to take action against climate change in order to protect the iconic structure for future generations.

HES says it is the first time a heritage-focused organisation has pooled information with other bodies, including the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), to gain a true picture of the danger facing iconic historic buildings.

Ewan Hyslop, Head of Technical Research and Science at HES, said: “Climate change poses a number of very real threats to Scotland’s historic environment, from an increased frequency of extreme and unpredictable weather events to rising sea-levels.

“As well as this, average rainfall in Scotland has risen by more than 20 percent since the 1960s, with historic buildings particularly susceptible to the accelerated decay this can cause.

“It is important we’re well equipped to deal with these challenges, and the Climate Change Risk Assessment report enables us to better understand the risks we face and enhance the knowledge we have to help protect and preserve Scotland’s historic environment for future generations”.

He added: “This report places Scotland at the forefront of the global challenge to tackle Climate Change.

“We lead the way in the adaptation of the historic environment by working with partners to share expertise and guidance with the wider sector to enhance resilience against current and future changes to our climate.

“This initial baseline assessment to evaluate climate change risk will help to improve evidence-based decision making within HES, and in turn will inform future investment in our estate.”

The report follows the announcement in January 2017 of a £6.6m investment boost to support conservation work, repairs and upgrade of visitor facilities at sites across the HES estate.