Archbishop of York's warning over global warming after his own house flooded in Yorkshire storms

Society must "urgently" change the way it inhabits the planet, the Archbishop of York has warned, in the wake of storms that engulfed Yorkshire communities and flooded his own undercroft.

Archbishop Stephen Cottrell led sermons at floodhit Tadcaster’s St Mary’s Church yesterday. The market town near Selby has over recent days been facing a major clean-up operation in the aftermath of Storm Franklin, when the River Wharfe burst its banks and flooded 70 properties.

Archbishop Cottrell, speaking to the congregation, commiserated with the battle they faced as he said he stood alongside them through this difficult time.

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Revealing the undercroft of his own house at Bishopthorpe Palace was among those ravaged by rising waters last week, for the fourth time in 18 months, he said plaques on the wall dating to the mid-18th century show how such events were once a rare exception.

Businesses clean up on Bridge Street in Tadcaster after the River Wharfe flooded the town. 22nd February 2022. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

He said: “What was once an exceptional event, has become fairly commonplace. It’s the same here in Tadcaster. Global warming is real. Climate change is happening.

“We urgently need to change the way we inhabit the planet, lest we end up so destroying its fragile equilibrium, that floods and storms and forest fires completely engulf us.”

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There but for grace of God... water laps at Bishop’s palace

Bishopthorpe Palace, dating back to the 13th century, was built on an undercroft as a natural flood defence from the River Ouse. While the waters come in and cause a "huge and dirty inconvenience", they don't yet rise to the area the Archbishop lives and works, he said.

Mick Malkinson wades through flood water at his house near Tadcaster Albion Football ground after the River Wharfe flooded the town. 22nd February 2022. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

He added: "If you go round to the river-side of the palace there are little plaques on the wall showing where the water level was in, say, 1752 or 1831. They put them there because floods in those days was a relatively rare event, something that happened every 50 years or so.

"I’ve been Archbishop of York for about 18 months and this week was the fourth time the house flooded."

Clean up operations have been underway in Tadcaster since the River Wharfe burst its banks in the early hours of last Monday, submerging its main road which runs through the town.

Parts of Yorkshire saw an inch of rain over just 24 hours last week, with Storm Franklin following Storm Eunice in quick succession with strong winds and torrential downpours.

Flood water close to Ryther Village Hall near Tadcaster. Picture Tony Johnson

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