I was interested to read your article (Craven Herald, March 11) about the old barn in Malham and how the National Trust considered that it had collapsed due to soil shrinkage caused by changing levels of moisture in the soil as a result of climate change.

Disappointingly some commentators on the article were very dismissive of the idea, apparently having no respect for the opinion of the experts who had made this assessment of the barn: “An otherwise sound 18th century barn collapsed at Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales as a result of soil shrinkage. The building was built with no foundations and as soil moved the back wall shifted slightly and the roof collapsed in on itself. Prior to this it had not been classed as being in a poor state of repair.”


Despite the ridicule and cynicism of the commentators, only a minimum of research on the web turns up multiple sources supporting the fact that climate change can be responsible for property damage.

This includes the experts on the site “subsistence.co.uk” one of whom says: “Figures from a 2011 report showed that property damage from drought-induced soil subsidence has increased dramatically across Europe...As a homeowner, this is just one more reason why climate change is going to be something you’ll have to think about over the next several years. Find out what soil type your home is standing on and be aware of the effects of soil shrinkage. Home insurers will have to adapt to the increasing prevalence of subsidence cases, to ensure that homeowners are not punished for the effects of climate change” http://www.subsidence.co.uk/impact-climate-change-subsidence/

The changes now taking place in the Earth’s climate are not just a matter of a slight increase in average global temperature. That temperature rise is causing serious imbalances in weather systems and producing increasing numbers of extreme weather events which include unprecedented levels of drought, rainfall, snowfall, high and low temperatures, strength of hurricanes and so on. In other words, the parameters of the natural variability of the weather are being stretched to levels which our built environment was not designed to withstand. Ignoring this impact and refusing to accept the science behind it when it is pointed out to us by experts in the subject will have serious repercussions, including the threat to our historic buildings as identified by the NT.

Amanda Caven