Is our neighbourhood going to be fit for the future? (Part 2)

How do we make our neighbourhood fit for the future? As extreme weather events become more common, the changing climate will no longer seem so far from home. The impacts are going to be all around us.

Part 1 of this blog covered ways we can and need to act to prevent the causes of climate change, and part 2 here deals with adapting to changes that are already in the system and will increasingly affect us.

We’re being consulted now by the council about adapting to increased severe weather impacts. Homes near the Cran Brook in Redland ward are highlighted as at risk of more frequent flooding in the council’s proposed flood risk management strategy, open for comments until June 10th. [www.bristol.gov.uk/floodstrategy

Our planned Sustainable Bishopston/Sustainable Redland event in Our Neighbourhood week will include visits to look at features of homes that have been treated to deal with the impacts of climate change, such as increased heavy rainfall and run-off.

Reusing old wheelie bins into water butts at the Golden Hill Community Garden
I helped with a project to reuse old wheelie bins into water butts at the Golden Hill Community Garden

So what are the changes we might consider? One is know already to many gardeners: harvesting rainwater. This helps manage our gardens, but also delays rainfall getting into local watercourses so fast. I helped the Golden Hill Community Garden with a project to reuse redundant wheeliebins and make large rainwater butts for local people. It’s just one of the creative projects I’ve been happy to take part in at this oasis next to our neighbourhood.

We  also need to deal with run-off of stormwater.

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Permeable paving soaks up rainwater, instead of causing immediate run off and flooding of drains or road

When driveways are paved there’s a choice about how the surface either causes immediate runoff and flood risk or helps hold back water and soak into the soil instead.

We also have some examples of living roofs, or green roofs, in the area. These already contribute to biodiversity, help soak up rainwater, and insulate buildings at the same time.

A living roof, creating habitats, soaking up rainwater, and insulating the building at Bristol Zoo
A living roof, creating habitats, soaking up rainwater, and insulating the building at Bristol Zoo

On a more strategic side, the council’s role has grown over the last few years, since I helped develop the first SW region climate adaptation report, feeding in insight from Bristol as a local authority and an urban area. We identified sectors and groups who will need to adapt, either to changes that affect them or to tap new markets as the economy evolves.

How we manage our parks, what we do to deal with stormwater, and which sectors are affected by weather are all going to matter. Our health can be affected, vital food supplies, and also our homes, hence the trail we’re developing to illustrate changes people can make if they live locally and own their houses.

The consultation on the city’s flood strategy was briefly discussed at a recent Neighbourhood Partnership meeting. With the local risk around the Cran Brook we’ll need to make sure it comes up with suitable solutions to safeguard our area. My view is that the choices made can also contribute to enhancing the local environment and green spaces, but  we need to have our say over how this is done.

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