I am in shock to hear Mary Creagh, UK shadow environment secretary, criticise Defra’s decision to tackle the absurd mess of regulations with regards development on contaminated sites. If Mary Creagh fully understands the complex, often contradicatory information and ineffectual regulations with regards contaminated land then she knows more than most of those in the industry itself who have had to deal with such land, which is doubtful.
This could finally lead to true ‘brownfield’ development, not the dubious definition we have seen at play since 1997.
A lack of guidelines, research and overall knowledge in the UK was rapidly leading towards a decision to simply leave large black holes for future generations to deal with. It is a reason I moved to France where research and techniques have led towards real innovation, strengthening the economics of post industrial and depraved areas and ‘Sustainable Development’ in its purest sense.
For anyone who believes Mary Creagh to be right, which she isn’t, need only catch the Eurostar to Lille and check out the incredible work carried out between Lille and Roubaix – in particular the incredible le Parc de la Deûle, which won the grand prix de paysage in 2006.
UK planners and local government are often confused as to what to do with such land and the regulations at play were clearly flawed as progress and development on such land are consistently thwarted leading to increased incidences of garden grabbing and subsequently the need to look towards more green field sites. Phytoremediation, bioremediation and soil cleaning are just the tip of an iceberg of new skills which can bolster a landscaping industry, which is on its knees. There is real scope for the integration of traditional skills and knowledge allowing for development where the landscaper and the forester are prominent in the design process and planning stages.
This is a huge opportunity for the UK to finally tackle the urban landscape head on. The decision not to abandon land remediation relief (LRR) , also allows a huge sigh of relief after months of speculation and real worry.
This is an area where any revision in the current guidelines can only lead to more empowerment for land engineers, land managers and landscape architects to excel at what they do best, which they have been hold back from for too long. This will enable the urban landscape to catch up with the overly financed and increasingly distant to the real population rural ‘quintessential’ landscape. Add in more public participation into the planning and the coalition will jump forward in terms of sustainable development so quickly as to suffer a g force effect.
It is not the realm of the NGOs’ it is not their party and they are not invited and for once the English could see the benefits of having an engineering base of gold working on their doorsteps, envied across the globe and who are the only group who have the real solutions for true sustainable development in their heads.