Delivering Green Infrastructure Benefits

Posted by Cain Blythe - CEnv MIEMA MIEEM MSc BSc (Hons) on 15/03/2011

To illustrate an example of a green infrastructure benefit – many drainage solutions in past years involved the use of large concrete pipes situated underground or concrete, channelised canals. New solutions would look to fully integrate environmental options, such as bio-engineered revetments, nearby ponds, reedbeds and/or swales to create a bio-engineered solution, linking low quality habitats with those of high quality.

The South East England Section Conference relating to Green Infrastructure, which took place on Friday 11 March 2011, further addressed the subject. A number of professionals, including ecologists, hydrologists, landscape architects and architects discussed the need to collaborate on any such projects and the measures that will be required to effectively deliver eco-friendly infrastructure benefits. Several new developments were discussed during the conference, including the Olympic Park and Westfield Green Wall developments.

Certainly, many landscaping companies are concerned about the environmental standards they are expected to meet – with tougher targets now being set. However, many would argue that this is a good thing, as landscapers respond by building ‘greener’ properties – often including features such as green roof and wall planting. Many new green infrastructure projects are also emerging – for example biomass power stations, anaerobic digesters, and urban renewable-energy centres. All of these new projects require a close collaboration of landscapers and local community support in order to succeed.

As always, cost can become a factor when identifying opportunities for the integration of biodiversity into green infrastructure projects – however, on one front, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. A group of highly-influential MP’s recently issued a warning that The Green Infrastructure Bank must be given an 'extraordinary exemption' from the constraints imposed by the Treasury – allowing them to raise essential funds for the development of sustainable energy projects. The EAC (Environmental Audit Committee) urged the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to seek exemption for the public sector bank. The committee has argued that the establishment of an effective bank is vital to find the levels of private sector investment required.

Joan Walley,  the committee chair said – “If the Government is serious about being the 'greenest ever', the chancellor must ensure the Green Investment Bank can do what it says on the tin and raise extra capital like a real bank.” It’s a good point – and as an estimated £200bn and £1tn of private sector investment will be required throughout the following two decades, to assist the UK meet its climate change and renewable energy targets, the debate is set to continue for some time.

Ecosulis provides a holistic service that considers the full requirements of green infrastructure projects at all stages including the assessment, survey, mapping, integration, planning and implementation stages. 

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