Shropshire Star

Storm Babet: National Trust bosses say damage amounts to thousands as they appeal for donations

Widespread damage to landscapes, gardens and properties caused by Storm Babet is a 'taste of what's to come', National Trust bosses say.

Eroded banks at Carding Mill Valley. Photo: NT/ Maria Darlington

The persistent heavy rainfall and flash flooding seen across the Midlands and the North East of England last week has left a trail of destruction across sites cared for by the National Trust.

While the full extent of the damage is still being assessed, trust bosses say the costs of repairs could amount to tens of thousands of pounds.

In Shropshire, the Deer Park at Attingham Park has been closed since Saturday, due to floodwater blocking access to the bridges leading to it.

Local rainfall meant the River Tern, which runs alongside the Deer Park, burst its banks, resulting in a huge swathe of water resembling a large ‘lake’ flowing through the parkland.

This was then heavily impacted upon by the rainfall in Wales surging down the River Severn, which has its confluence with the Tern on the estate, so a second huge ‘lake’ is spilling out across the meadows on the wider estate.

General manager Mark Agnew said: “We need to wait for the river levels to recede and then to see what repairs we need to do to the causeway, bridges, fences and paths both into the Deer Park and then in the meadows alongside the Severn.”

The National Trust continues to work on a major project with Shropshire Council and the Environment Agency on how the Attingham Estate can respond further to climate change through even more retention of floodwaters.

Attingham already holds a huge amount of water across the river catchments, helping to slow the flow and reduce flood risk further along the watercourse.

Flooding at Attingham Park. Photo: NT/ Jo Armstrong

At Carding Mill Valley and the Long Mynd, the volume of water was such, it has eroded away some of banks of the Ashbrooke River – more commonly referred to as a stream – that flows through the valley.

The damage to the riverbank is being monitored as some cracks have appeared.

The flooding has also resulted in the transportation of lots of rocks from higher up the valley, which have been carried downstream.

Andy Jasper, director of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said: "Our garden teams are doing an amazing job, working hard to repair and reinstate damaged areas and we are so grateful for their efforts in such difficult conditions.

"Some visitors may not be able to visit parts of their favourite gardens or parkland while we do this work and we thank them for their patience, too.

"These extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent as a sign of the rapidly changing climate.

"With more than 220 gardens and parklands across the National Trust, we are doing everything we can to make these historic gardens as future-proof as possible.

"This includes thinking longer term for extremes of heat, choosing more drought tolerant plants, creating path surfaces that are more resilient and caring for our lawns and soil so they are less prone to waterlogging.

" These are just some of the many steps we are taking which will help our gardens thrive into the future.

"All of this underlines just how important people’s support to our charity is – the costs of adapting the places we look after to extreme weather events are only going to increase."

The clear-up operation is likely to take several weeks and could be hampered by further rain which is forecast for later this week.

The trust is advising visitors to sites in the Midlands and north of England to check property websites before setting out as some areas may be closed for repairs.

Donations to help towards the clear up work and ongoing conservation work to protect National Trust places from the impacts of climate change can be made via the National Trust website.

At Charlecote Park in Warwickshire, a 260-year old Cedar of Lebanon came down in the deer park, probably due to the weight of water brought by Storm Babet.

The tree is thought to have been planted in the 1760s as part of improvements made by ‘Capability’ Brown. Large areas of the parkland are now closed or inaccessible due to flooding, storm damage and waterlogged ground.

At Belton House in Lincolnshire, the sheer volume of rainfall overwhelmed guttering and water leaked into a number of windows, including the Chinese Bedroom, which is lined with highly significant handpainted wallpaper hung in 1830.

Staff used padding to soak up water trickling down the paper and used a dehumidifier to prevent mould developing.

Fortunately, no staining is visible and the historic adhesive is intact, but its condition will be closely monitored by conservators.