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Heatwave on the Common

Heatwave on the Common

With so much coverage this past week, there is no need for us to join in the distraught scream about climate change, writes our Chair, Mike Hildesley.

Rather, we need to think as calmly as possible about the actions the community can take to build resilience in our daily lives, as well as be better prepared in emergencies.

As I write, it appears that locally we have been relatively lucky, but we need to stay on high alert for the fire risks. The only major fire on the common so far was due to a stolen car being torched – it has damaged adjoining vegetation, but fortunately not as widespread as we might have feared, thanks to quick reports of smoke in the middle of the night and early attendance by the fire brigade. A narrow escape compared with some communities, to whom we offer our sympathies.

We can normally expect severe thunderstorms at the end of a heatwave: at the time of writing, there are warnings to the west, so we are not out of the woods yet. Should we have another storm like that of July 12 last year then we need to hope it does not coincide with high tides again. If it should do so, then please think about limiting the water you use during and for an hour or two after the storm – do not use washing machines, dishwashers, or empty the bath – maybe only flush toilets if essential – less water going into the drains can only help the drainage system to cope better!

Longer term we all need to think more strategically about how we cope with high temperatures, more severe storms, wetter winters, drought and floods: at Barnes Common Limited we are pleased to be in partnership with the Council and WWT looking at ‘Living with Water’ – how we can get the best benefits to biodiversity and wellbeing while also building resilience to climate change. Of course we need ‘survival techniques’ – iced water in ‘hot’ water bottles, closed windows and drawn shades, simple fans, cold wet towels – just as we need to know what to do if it floods. But resilience is about how we can stop exacerbating the problems and can take longer term steps to alleviate them: these are complex issues, but many solutions are to be found in the combination of nature and technology. This is not the time to go into this in detail – but through our involvement with flood resilience and climate change, we will be doing so over the coming weeks, months and years.

Meantime, please stay safe and spare a thought for those less fortunate that ourselves.