Olympic and Paralympic sustainability boost for Weymouth
Defra’s sustainable development team reports on the wide range of activity from Defra and its partners over the last seven years to ensure that Weymouth enjoys a sustainability boost from its part in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Pontoons at the new Olympic sailing development at Weymouth
(photo courtesy London 2012)
Weymouth saw some memorable sailing triumphs for the GB team during the London 2012 Olympic Games, not least Ben Ainslie’s gold in the Finn class. While medal success will inspire the next generation to get involved in sport, the environmental legacy of the Games has been the focus of efforts by the Defra and partner organisations ever since London won the bid in 2005.
The sailing venue on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site has played its own part to ensure the Games are the greenest ever, and Natural England has been advising on issues around the natural environment. Here we round up some of the different ways Weymouth and Portland has become a benchmark for efforts to protect biodiversity, build green infrastructure and promote sustainability during major events.
- Protecting the marine environment has been a priority. For example, the Olympic Delivery Authority asked Natural England for advice in building the new pontoon to ensure that the population of rare and protected sandworms discovered when the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy was built, were not harmed. The Academy now monitors sailing to protect them and other species in Weymouth Bay such as seahorses.
- Coastal access: Richard Benyon recently announced improved access to almost 32km of coastline between Rufus Castle in Portland and Lulworth Cove, increasing access to the countryside and boosting tourism. This joint project between Natural England and Dorset County Council enables the South West Coast Path to be rolled back as the cliffs erode or slip, solving longstanding difficulties with maintaining a continuous route around the slumping cliffs on this stretch of coast.
- Partnership projects: work to create a lasting green legacy in the area has involved over 200 organisations in the voluntary, public and private sectors. One of the partnerships, Wild about Weymouth and Portland, is improving access to key wildlife sites and enables local people and visitors to discover and engage with the natural environment. Funded through Natural England’s Access to Nature programme, partners include the Dorset Wildlife Trust, RSPB and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. The Environment Agency has also been part of the Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership, whose work has included providing environmental information and children’s activities at these sites.
- Revealing underwater secrets: The undersea landscape of Weymouth Bay was mapped by the Dorset Wildlife Trust as part of a marine management project and has inspired an artist’s impression, available to download as a pdf.
The map is displayed at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy and has one of eight Quick Response (QR) barcodes which can be scanned using smart phones to access further information of life under the waves. The others are sited around Weymouth Bay on existing displays and fingerposts.
- Creating new green infrastructure: On Portland, the old quarries which produced Portland Stone, have been transformed into a new 50ha nature park, which is twinned with the 188ha Lorton Valley Nature Park around Weymouth Bay. The Legacy Trail links the two.
- A sustainable venue: The sailing venue has large solar panels on the roof – in addition to a number of large wind turbines – which produce up to 20% of the venue’s total electricity. There are also voltage optimisation devices which reduce electricity consumption by 8%. Also on the roof there is rain water harvesting which provides water to the dinghy park so competitors can wash down their kit. In the sailing village, which hosted 700 Olympic athletes and 550 officials, the buildings incorporate biomass district heating and wood pellet stoves.
- Event management at the venue for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games is the first to be certified to a new British Standard BS 8901 for sustainability, and the new international ISO 20121 standard. This means that the way the event has been run has had principles such as recycling and energy efficiency at its heart. Also, the Sailing Academy became the first location in the UK to become a collection point for recycling used sails.
As well as the environmental legacy from hosting the sailing events of the Olympic and Paralympic Games there is a significant economic and social legacy. This includes the draw of a world class sailing venue at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, affordable housing once the sailing village is sold, and a boost for tourism through the promotion of nature and increased access to the coast.
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