Northern Ireland

Council holds first climate conference

Cars stacked on top of each other in Drumahoe, County Londonderry
Image caption Cars stacked on top of each other in Drumahoe, County Londonderry during last summer's flood

A Northern Ireland council has become the region's first to look at ways of mitigating the effects of climate change.

It is being run by Derry City and Strabane Council, which saw serious flooding in the summer of 2017.

One hundred people had to be rescued in the north west as two thirds of August's rainfall came down in nine hours.

Bridges crumbled, cars were washed away and homes and businesses destroyed.

Now experts from London, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland are gathering to offer advice on how to cope with future events.

Image copyright Gary McCall
Image caption Floods from above in Campsie, County Derry

The conference will examine the council's emergency planning to see how it might be improved.

But it will also look at use of public spaces to mitigate the effects of flooding and other climate change conditions.

The council owns 230 public spaces in the district.

Image caption Lagoons at Culmore Point Park provide bird habitat and flood management

One of them is Culmore Point Park on the banks of the Foyle.

For more than 30 years it was the city dump, taking thousands of tonnes of domestic rubbish.

It has now been closed, capped and turned into a public park and nature reserve.

But it has also been engineered to provide salt marsh and mud flat habitat for breeding waders.

But the lagoons also double as a sink for sea water during high tide and storm surges which prevents seawater moving up the Foyle and causing problems in the city.

Image caption The conference in taking place in the city's Guildhall

The idea of such so-called "green infrastructure" is to provide a network of interlinked spaces that can be used by the public, whilst simultaneously creating wildlife habitat and helping to manage climate change risk.

The council effort to address climate change predates the 2017 floods.

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