The Daily Telegraph

More heavy rain, but it can be used for nature’s benefit

- By Joe Shute

THE new year has swept in on a carousel of seemingly never-ending squalls. It has been chucking it down for weeks now, with more forecast this weekend as a fresh wave of coastal gales sends a band of heavy rain driving north-east.

Rivers are running high and this week the Severn in Gloucester­shire burst its banks, with floodwater­s encircling the 12th-century Tewkesbury Abbey. Flood warnings are also in place across many western parts of the country.

The reason is an ongoing La Niña event, a periodic climate pattern that cools surface ocean waters in the equatorial Pacific. This can trigger stronger rainfall (as well as drought) across the globe and in the UK can lead to a drier first part of winter before a more unsettled January and February (particular­ly in the west).

La Niña and its drier counterpar­t, El Niño, have long influenced our weather patterns but their effects are being exacerbate­d by climate change. Prolonged and extreme bouts of rainfall are increasing­ly becoming a feature of our winters.

Amid the glowering skies, the Government announced an interestin­g bit of legislatio­n this week designed to cope with the wetter weather. By 2024 it will make so-called sustainabl­e urban drainage systems (Suds) a mandated requiremen­t of all new developmen­ts.

These can be rain gardens, ponds or other boggy areas designed to soak up rainfall and prevent it from flushing into the sewers, which are quickly overloaded, prompting the water companies to open up the sewage into rivers instead, exacerbati­ng pollution.

As well as reducing pressure on sewage systems, Suds boost biodiversi­ty by helping restore Britain’s wetlands. Invertebra­tes, amphibians and birds all benefit.

This is part of a wider push to create “sponge cities” capable of soaking up water and using it to the benefit of nature rather than flushing it down the drains.

 ?? ?? Squalls have been constant this year
Squalls have been constant this year

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