NEW warnings have been issued about the social, economic and environmental challenges faced by the Lake District because of climate change.

In separate studies, experts working for Newton Rigg Agricultural College and the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) say communities need to prepare now to be ready for the changes expected over the next 60 years.

In her assessment, Dr Lois Mansfield, principal lecturer at the International Centre for Uplands based at Newton Rigg, said: “Climate change will mean farm management will have to adapt. As temperatures rise, diseases will increase and upland stock will suffer from more heat stress, as many are currently adapted to cooler environments.

“Farmers will need to construct more animal shelters, creating additional expense, as well as impacting on the landscape.

“Upland farmers may be able to increase silage production but will spend more on disease control. Wetter winters will lead to more erosion management on steeper slopes.

“As a result of changing conditions, more finance will be needed for buildings and feed as well as new practical managment skills to address these challenges.”

Meanwhile, in the LDNPA report, officials identified the cumulative effect of climate change which could ‘alter the look and feel of the Lake District’.

The report – drawn up by a team of LDNPA specialist environmental, policy and landscape officers - detailed a series of climate change events which could arise, and then highlighted the actions needed to adapt to the consequences. It will now be updated annually.

The report says: “Research suggests that sea level rises will be an inevitable product of climate change, which together with coastal erosion, could threaten communities in the Lake District. More frequent or more severe droughts have potential to affect biodiversity, tourism and development.

“The national park is well placed to apply a joined-up approach with its partners in adapting to climate change. This initial risk assessment will help prioritise existing adaptation work and will aid understanding of the future actions that need to take place.”

Details of the report are available at Efforts such as those in the study were praised by the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, which complimented the Lake District, West Sussex and Manchester for their efforts in managing climate change at local level.