Weatherman gets on his bike to highlight climate change dangers

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STV weatherman Sean Batty will meet members of Oxfam Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Project on South Uist as part of his 130 mile sponsored cycle through the Western Isles.

Batty is cycling to raise funds for the STV Appeal 2011 - this year targeted at addressing child poverty in Scotland.

Batty, a trained meteorologist, hopes to see first hand some of the challenges that changing weather patterns pose to the Islanders’ traditional way of life. The increasing regularity of freak weather events, coupled with rising sea levels and increasing wind and rainfall has exposed the fragility of the current defence measures.

However, a grant from the Postcode Lottery Dream Fund has allowed vital work to begin on shielding the most vulnerable areas of the island with flood walls and coastal barriers.

Recycled fishing nets have been used to stabilise the dunes at Kilphedar, and under the direction of the Oxfam Scotland supported Lochboisdale Community Trust, locals and volunteers from a number of Glasgow based community groups will begin rolling out sand blow fencing to protect other exposed areas of the island.

Sean Batty, STV Weatherman said: “The ‘autumn gales’ we experience from time to time can be the remnants of Atlantic hurricanes, which are expected to become stronger if the Earth continues to warm. This is of particular importance to places like the Western Isles, which are fully exposed to the might of the Atlantic and the risk of tidal surges. With rising sea levels and stronger storms expected in the future it’s vital that we start preparing for this now, and while I’m on the Western Isles raising money for the STV Appeal I thought it would be a great idea to see the work being done by Oxfam Scotland and the South Uist community to lessen the impact of changing weather patterns.

“It’s great that the people of South Uist managed to secure the funding required to move ahead with their Climate Change Adaptation project. I’m really looking forward to meeting those working on the project and seeing what they’ve done.”

Caluna Campbell, Oxfam Scotland Project Officer for South Uist, said: “Sean is going to see firsthand how changing weather patterns are threatening the continued existence of the South Uist community, and what the islanders are doing to safeguard their homes and livelihoods. Climate change is not tomorrow’s problem- it’s happening now in Scotland, and projects like this demonstrate the kind of community spirit and innovation that overcoming these challenges will require.”