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Future Climate and Environmental Change Within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site

Front cover for Future Climate and Environmental Change Within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site

Project 6927

By Andy J Howard, David Knight

This report was produced in response to the challenge that climate change poses for the historic environment and its management. It focuses on the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, situated on a 24 km stretch of the River Derwent in Derbyshire.

  • The assessment methodology included examining the empirical evidence of known episodes of past climate change or flooding and modelling the impacts of future change. It also took into consideration the impact of contamination from past mining activities, which are thought likely to exacerbate possible effects of future climate change.
  • The modelled simulations, assuming that present water management feature such as weirs are maintained, suggest that the deposition and erosion patterns within the study area are unlikely to significantly change the Derwent channel system up to 2050. However there could be localised erosion hotspots, which require further research.
  • The effects downstream from the World Heritage site are less certain.
  • Flooding or weir removal could cause sediments contaminated with heavy metals- the legacy of historic mining processes- to be released downstream
  • The project fed into the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site research framework.
  • It also offers a holistic approach to assessing possible impacts of change that can be applied to other UK World Heritage Sites or to other less well protected heritage assets.

This work was commissioned by English Heritage (now Historic England) from a consortium including specialists from Trent and Peak Archaeology, Landscape Research and Management, with additional contributions by specialists from the University of Hull and Birkbeck University of London.

At the time it was commissioned, it formed part of wider work on understanding impacts of major climate change on the historic environment within National Heritage Protection Plan Activity 2C1.


Executive Summary

1. Introduction

2. Methodology

3. Synthesis of Results

4. Discussion



Annex 1 Modelling future development of the River Derwent through the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

Annex 2 The impact of mining contamination on the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site

Additional Information

  • Publication Status: Completed


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