Saturday, 18 April 2009

Is it always "green" to stage the Games in a green oasis?

The London 2012 website makes great play about how this will be the "green" Games. On the sustainability page it states four ways the organisers are going to achieve their goals. Let’s see whether it passes the Greenwich Park test.

Enhancing bio-diversity
Greenwich Park is blessed with acid grasslands which enhance bio-diversity, but which would be destroyed by horse manure. Even the Park's mounted police exercise their horses along the paths, not the grass. From LOCOG's latest issued 'indicative' map of the cross-country course, it is clear that competitors' horses would have to pass over this sensitive area. It is hypocritical to teach our children that bio-diversity and conservation are important - unless it gets in the way of a month-long exhibition of elite sports.0/10

Encouraging healthy living
Greenwich Park is a focus for sports and recreation: walking, jogging, exercising dogs, football training, cycling, childrens playground, school playground, infants sports day, tennis, cricket, real frisbee - you get the picture. However the whole Park is expected to be closed for 6-8 weeks in the peak summer months in 2012. In this densely populated part of London, where many people do not have their own gardens, there is no accessible alternative to the Park. If Greenwich Park is the venue for the 2012 equestrian events, more people would be denied access to the Park than would be able to attend as spectators (and, perhaps, be inspired to take up riding). How is closing the Park for the Olympics going to address childhood obesity? 0/10

Reducing waste
How does building a huge 23000-seater stadium and then taking it all down reduce waste? What would be far less wasteful would be to enhance the facilities in an existing equestrian venue and only remove those that are not sustainable.

Combating climate change
Building a temporary stadium from scratch is going to have a larger carbon footprint than developing existing facilities; as would transporting jumps to Greenwich Park (to reduce closures) instead of building them in situ; as would transporting ground protective materials which would not be needed if the equestrian events were held at another, more suitable, venue. Incidentally all the transport and construction vehicles would have to travel through notorious bottlenecks to get to Greenwich Park. 0/10

The greatest environmental impact would probably come from levelling the ground for the arena. It is planned to key-in polystyrene blocks, the type used for bridge building and supporting roads, to make the arena level. As each block would have to be custom cut to fit, presumably it wouldn’t be re-usable nor recyclable for that matter. There is also the additional transport carbon footprint which wouldn't be incurred were the venue a place that already had a stadium.0/10

We challenge the spin doctors at LOCOG to tell us why they think using Greenwich Park for the 2012 equestrian events is "green". How is promoting equestrianism in London is more important than saving the planet? SD

1 comment:

postcardsfromk said...

Using the park certainly doesn't appear to offer much in terms of preserving the local environment, or culture, or heritage!

Surely the development of lasting sporting facilities is far more sustainable? I would be far happier to see investment in improving equestrian facilities that British competitors can use beyond 2012.