Don’t believe what you read

Shaun McCarthy

April 11, 2011   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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I was astonished to read in a media report recently that the London 2012 sustainability plan is “in tatters”. I was even more surprised to read that this piece of journalistic endeavour was based on quotes from an interview with me. The quotes were accurate but out of context and focused on two issues we are addressing in our Annual Review, published in April 2011.  

The first is about carbon emissions. We are reasonably confident that the ODA and LOCOG will meet their carbon emissions targets but these targets will not be achieved through renewable energy as originally planned. The ODA plans to invest in a community energy saving scheme in the local area and LOCOG will set more aggressive energy reduction targets to achieve the same end of reducing carbon emissions directly associated with the Games and the legacy of the venues. London 2012 has demonstrated the futility of setting arbitrary targets for renewable energy when the technology and economics related to urban renewable energy requirements appear to be very challenging. Much better to specify “what” (reduce emissions) than “how” (install renewable energy). It is good to see planning guidance also moving in this direction.

The second issue is about green space. The bid promised a new urban park and while the Commission continues to exist (until March 2013) we propose to make sure the legacy bodies do not forget this. The pressures on OPLC will be high. A bigger stadium and a (justifiable) call for more family homes with gardens will put pressure on land use from Day 1. However, a promise is a promise and I look forward to seeing plans to preserve the 45 Hectares of biodiverse habitat when the new masterplans are announced in the summer.

The remainder of the report is very positive. The ODA has done a great job of construction and we were pleased to see government plans to adopt these standards of sustainability through procurement. This is easier said than done but we welcome the intent. LOCOG has set challenging targets and is showing signs of real innovation and leadership through venues, technology, waste management and catering. Legacy will be the responsibility of two very different bodies, the long established Lea Valley Regional Park Authority and the new Olympic Park Legacy Company which is expected to change into a Mayoral Development Corporation when the localism bill passes into law. Both have significant challenges to deliver a sustainable legacy but both are showing positive signs of being equal to the challenge.

Our next review will be our last before the Games, when we will need to take a view on how sustainable the Games are really likely to be. Can’t wait!


Shaun McCarthy

March 2011

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