There is universal agreement that the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games achieved the ambition of being the most sustainable Games ever.
David Stubbs LOCOG’s Head of Sustainability publicly acknowledged our role at post-Games events, “We are immensely proud to have achieved our sustainability goals and this would not have been possible without the proactive engagement from the Natural England team.”
A hallmark of the Games has been to ensure that learning is captured and widely shared with the public and professionals. Natural England’s work with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and their partners has been described in four green infrastructure case studies and two micro reports. These summarise how we worked together to secure a natural environment legacy.
The Olympic Park inspired millions of people, demonstrating the myriad of functions that green infrastructure delivers: flood mitigation, climate change adaptation, biodiversity and a place of inspiration. A case study describing how the Olympic Park – now the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – is exemplary green infrastructure was commissioned by Natural England.
Natural England worked closely with ODA to meet the planning condition of creating 45 hectares of habitats and the drafting of the Olympic Park Biodiversity Action Plan - a precedent for future Games. We are now working closely with ODA’s success, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) which is revising the BAP and finalising the Park’s Management Plan
Opportunities for outdoor learning and play will be available to children and young people living close to the Park, enabling them to relate to their environment very differently compared to past generations. To realise this opportunity Natural England is working with partners to develop the East London Outdoor Learning Project.
The cliffs of the Jurassic Coast were a stunning backdrop for the sailing events in Weymouth Bay. While the focus was on the action on the water, Natural England worked alongside Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, the London 2012 delivery bodies and Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy in the development of the new marina and venue management planning, to protect and enhance the marine environment below the waves of Weymouth Bay. A micro report summarises this work.
On land, the first stretch of the England Coast Path was completed in time for the Games and we are now piloting a barcodes project around Weymouth Bay to raise awareness of the marine environment.
There is new green infrastructure in Weymouth and Portland, at Lorton Valley Nature Park (194 ha) and Portland Quarries Nature Park (60ha). The two case studies describe the power of partnership working, a strong vision and a deadline for focussing effort. The two areas are linked by the Legacy Trail, a Wild About Weymouth and Portland project, which has increased access for local people and visitors with Access to Nature funding.
The mountain biking venue at Hadleigh Farm is adjacent to Hadleigh Country Park which lies within the Thames Gateway in South Essex. Natural England, Essex County Council and the Salvation Army worked together to increase biodiversity through the design of the Games-time elite course. The plans for two further courses and within the country park have been finalised. Through the process the quality of the Benfleet and Southend Marshes SSSI is being improved through Higher Level Stewardship agreements. The case study summarises how this new green infrastructure, which will boost the local economy, has come into being.
The stunning 2,200m rowing lake, set in 450 acres of parkland next to the River Thames, is owned by Eton College. The Thames Path National Trail were upgraded from Windsor to Dorney Lake, creating a legacy of improved disabled access. Eton College has entered into a Higher Level Stewardship agreement for Bray Pennyroyal SSSI, which will improve its status.
The special qualities of the landscape, habitats and species of Box Hill have been increased through a joint approach taken with the National Trust and LOCOG to provide the opportunity for spectators to view the sporting spectacle. The surveys which were carried out to decide on the approach shed new light on protected species and the extent of their habitat. The micro report describes the approach we jointly took.
You can find out more about the sustainability legacy by visiting the Learning Legacy website.
(26 December 2012) On Boxing Day, with the end of the year in sight, we look back at one of the highlights from London 2012 which showcased a beautiful and well-managed natural environment as Bradley Wiggins and his fellow cycling stars sped by.
The Olympic movement has long looked to ensure that each event leaves a positive legacy for host nations and, for London 2012, this notion was at the heart of the capital’s bid for the event.
(24 August 2012) Olympic windsurfer silver medallist Nick Dempsey is working with Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership, to keep the coast and inshore waters litter free.
(8 August 2012) The sailing events are taking place against the backdrop of the Jurassic Coast.
(31 May 2012) With the London 2012 Olympic Games fast approaching, Natural England is backing the National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs (NFYFC) as they take part in a series of cooking demonstrations during the Olympic Torch Relay celebrations.
(30 March 2012) Hadleigh Farm, with its steep gradients, uneven ground and hillocks, is the venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mountain bike events.
(29 March 2012) As well as being part of Mole Gap to Reigate Escarpment Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, the zig-zag road up Box Hill is about to host the hill-climb section for the cycling road races at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.