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National Trust calls for action to manage NI coastline

The National Trust is warning NI's coastline is at risk of permanent damage if action is not taken. Picture by Paul Canning

VULNERABLE areas of coastline in Northern Ireland are at risk of permanent damage if action is not taken, it has been warned.

The National Trust is today calling for government and agencies in the north to ensure all coastal areas are ready for the enormous challenges presented by severe storms and rising sea levels.

The organisation, which cares for more than 100 miles of coastline here, wants to see a move away from concrete sea defences to working with nature and moving people, infrastructure and habitats out of harm's way where possible.

During 2013 and 2014, the coastline was battered by a series of storms and high tides which resulted in levels of erosion and flooding experts only expect to see every five to 15 years.

The Trust has warned that in the coming years extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent, affecting people and natural habitats, putting coastal wildlife at risk.

Phil Davidson from the National Trust said there is an "immediate need for action".

“We are likely to be facing even greater increases in storm surges and sea level rise in the future," he said.

"However, there is currently no co-ordinated approach within government to inform decision-making on how best to sustainably manage the vulnerable areas of coastline."

A series of workshops with local councils and communities is being planned in early 2016 to help in the development of Shoreline Plans and to encourage long term thinking, he said.

At Mount Stewart in Co Down plans are already in place to adapt to rising sea levels of Strangford Lough.

Jon Kerr, manager at the National Trust property, said: "As the world changes around it, we want Mount Stewart to remain the special place it has always been.

"We have about 80 years to future proof this famous garden.

"As lough levels rise salt water will creep up the garden - reaching the Italian Garden and Lily Wood by the turn of the century.

"So it's important that we make plans and take action today."

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