A Blue-Green Infrastructure Plan
The immense pressures on our environment, climate change, biodiversity loss, demand for food, shelter and resources, pollution, mean that we must make our ecosystem as resilient as possible. To do that we need to bring together knowledge and expertise of ecology, urban design and human relations to land and environment. Developing a plan means we can take a strategic approach, plan and deliver steps to restore and support our ecosystem from the smallest space to the whole landscape.
Hackney Council made a commitment to "develop a Public Realm Green Infrastructure Plan, with the aim of ensuring the selection and spatial distribution of our trees and plants is driven by the best available research to improve Hackney's resilience to climate change-induced extreme weather events, such as floods and heatwaves, and contribute towards fighting the borough's poor air quality" in the Hackney Labour manifesto for 2018-2022.
We absolutely welcome this commitment and its scientific basis. However, we have some concerns. It should also cover the blue infrastructure - water bodies and our influence on water quality of the River Lea. And we need an ecosystem approach which does not recognise political or ownership boundaries (such as the public realm). We will also need to examine all infrastructure to assess its impacts and identify all opportunities. We look forward to working with the Council to develop and implement a really good plan.
Working on it
Sustainable Hackney kicked off discussion on Blue-Green Infrastructure at our AGM in June 2018. Mireille Tchapi from the University of Westminster gave an overview of scientific and social approaches. I looked at how we can build on GIPs already developed by other local authorities. John Little, Clapton Park Estate contractor and proprietor of Green Roofs and Marie Murray and Brian Cummings of Dalston Eastern Curve Garden looked at existing work to develop our green infrastructure. You can read about the discussions at our AGM here.
We've set up a Working Group to see how we can contribute to developing the Plan and what we think needs to be in it. The first meeting in October had a brainstorm on the Council's commitment, welcomed it but expressed the concerns set out above. We also had a discussion on the proposed changes to the Stoke Newington Gyratory and were deeply concerned to see that major surface works are to be undertaken with no inkling that the opportunity to defragment habitat and build ecosystem resilience has even crossed their minds. We agreed to write to the Council, the Mayor of London and Transport for London on all these concerns.
The Working Group's next meeting on 26 November will look at London and other local authorities' plans. Everyone agreed to read the London report and one other GIP. Why not have a look at your home or favourite town's GIP and come along and discuss what we can build on? You can blog or comment on them on this page too. Here's some REFERENCES to GIPs but if your chosen town is not there just search the web and see what you can find. Details of the meeting are here. Venue is still to be arranged so please check back later.