A cost-neutral way to protect parks, rivers and open spaces in climate of budget cuts
25 October 2016:
A partnership between Enfield Council and waterways charity Thames21 has seen Enfield Council become a Rainscapes or green infrastructure leader in the capital.
Nine new Rainscapes (also known as Sustainable Drainage Systems) have been created over the past four years, treating polluted water from a massive 473 hectares of urban catchment. The project has brought in new investment, tackled urban waterway pollution, improved parks and involved huge numbers of Enfield residents.
‘Working with Thames21 on these Rainscapes has given us the chance to deliver our objectives on improved green spaces, community cohesion, and to bring in external investment,’ said Enfield Councillor Daniel Anderson, cabinet member for environment and one of the council champions of the scheme.
Through working with Thames21, approximately £1m additional funding was brought into the borough from sources including the Environment Agency, Greater London Authority, DEFRA and Thames Water.
As well as creating the Rainscapes that money enabled a massive community engagement programme which resulted in more than 13,000 people attending events and helping out with planting and maintaining the Rainscapes.
Enfield’s Principal Drainage Engineer Ian Russell is one of the council staff delivering the Rainscapes projects. ‘Green infrastructure is cheaper and more effective than traditional piped systems’ he said. ‘They can even save money, as wetlands require less maintenance overall. They lock up carbon and save on the carbon cost of regular mowing.
‘And because they bring nature back, local people are more interested in helping to look after them.
‘These rainscapes are spaces for people, as well as a way of tackling flooding and water quality,’ said Russell. ‘So you’ve got to involve people from the start, and working with Thames21 enabled us to do that.’
Firs Farm Wetlands was primarily installed to tackle flooding while other projects had flood risk management elements to them.
Thames21 has a 20-year track-record of working with communities to improve water quality and reconnecting people back to their local waterways. Aimee Felus, Salmon’s Brook Healthy River Challenge Coordinator, said: ‘Our studies have demonstrated clear improvement in water quality, reduction of coliform bacteria and boosting of invertebrate populations.
‘On one rainscape site, between the start and end of the wetland system polluting nitrates were reduced by 68%. These spaces have become places which people want to visit and protect.’
Notes for editors
About Rainscapes or Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS)
A Rainscape is a created, strategically-located green space which captures and holds back surface water in order to better manage rainfall, protect water quality in our rivers, reduce risk of flooding and encourage wildlife. It can be large, like a wetland, or small, like a rain planter. Planted up with hardy, colourful vegetation, it captures polluted water running off roads and car parks; helping to filter out pollutants from entering rivers. It can also cut sewage overflows by reducing rainwater entering the sewer pipes and overloading them.
Thames21 is an environmental charity putting healthy rivers back at the heart of community life. Through environmental improvements, education, research and advocacy efforts, Thames21 is inspiring and influencing effective and lasting change by working
hand-in-hand with communities to deliver tangible and measurable improvements for urban rivers.
www.thames21.org.uk | Registered Charity No. 1103997
Communications Manager at Thames21
07739 627 667