It has become a common occurrence to read or watch about extreme weather events happening around the world, whether that is flooding, wildfires, storms, landslides or droughts.

In Fermanagh, these extreme weather events can also be seen, and none more so as when Lough Erne bursts her banks and floods the surrounding areas, causing massive difficulties for the local population.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have a Climate Team as well as a Climate Change and Sustainable Development Strategy (2020-2030) and a Climate Change and Sustainable Development Action Plan (2020-2024).

These set out what the Council will do and how they will work with stakeholders to develop solutions needed to tackle climate change.

Marcella Kinsella, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Lead Officer, and Julie Corry, Climate Projects Officer, are part of the Council’s Climate team.

“It is well-recognised that the main changes being felt because of climate change is warmer, wetter weather coupled with an increase in extreme weather events such as storms, heatwaves and flooding,” explained Marcella.

“Locally, this means Lough Erne and the surrounding land and communities are experiencing a combination of more local flooding, stormy weather and at times more local drought periods, which combined over the course of a year can have direct negative impacts on farmland and farm animals, residents’ safety and property, wildlife and indirectly, for example, on people’s mental health.”

She added that there is also potential locally for positive opportunities through an increase in tourism to the Lough Erne area.

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 gives a full overview of risks and opportunities that Climate Change could bring to Northern Ireland.

The Climate team have identified risks to species and habitats, agriculture and wildlife, forestry, landscapes and the natural environment around Lough Erne.

“The impacts currently being felt due to climate change will become more frequent and potentially worse if climate change is not addressed,” added Marcella.

The risks to Lough Erne and its surroundings will continue and new risks may also become apparent.

Through major investment, the Council will work towards its aims by improving energy efficiency in Council buildings, encouraging net zero in its supply chain, enhancing carbon removal in open spaces, protecting shared natural resources, and integrating climate considerations in all its decisions.

The Council has several targets to reach including net zero by 2040 in Council operations, net zero in the district by 2042, and by 2050 climate resilience in buildings, public spaces and infrastructure.

It will be working with all stakeholders to accelerate the transition to net zero and to become more resilient to extreme weather and flooding.

Julie said it is right that the Council takes responsibility and coordinates efforts to “support the achievement of net zero, build climate resilience and grow a sustainable economy to achieve a truly sustainable district”.

She continued: “In the context of climate action, there must be clear and decisive leadership.

“We will do this by means of the Climate Change and Sustainable Development Strategy 2020–2030, against which we drive our performance.”