Is Bath a sustainable city
Bath has a population of around 80,000. It is world heritage city and receives over 2,000,000 tourists a year. It is also an important regional shopping area and serves a large area around it. It is a wealthy city, with house prices considerably above the national average and a high proportion of ‘professional’ and high earning individuals. Bath has much history surrounding it, and the Roman’s aspect is one that attracts many visitors.
The Roman baths are one of the top historical monuments in the UK, attracting over 890,000 visitors a year. The cultural attractions of the city have led too much recent in migration and bath is under increasing pressure to meet residents’ demands for affordable accommodation, transport and services. The city has a wide range of problems trying to meet these demands as Bath is located in the steep-sided Avon valley and there is little flat land available for large-scale development.
Furthermore, as well as having a protected historic core, bath is surrounded by green belt, which restricts urban sprawl, in this case towards nearby Bristol and surrounding towns. To the east, much of the countryside falls in the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty, limiting development to village infill. As a consequence, Bath has a real shortage of affordable housing, even lower than the nationally low figure for the south west of 16% of the total housing stock.
Bath also needs to safeguard land for industrial development, as it is over reliant on the fickle tourist sector. A housing programme which has which has pioneering innovations for sustainable and a efficient living is the Greenwich Millennium Village, which has combated the problem that Bath is facing by constructing a housing development on the Eastern side of the Greenwich Peninsula adjacent to the River Thames. It has 1377 homes of which 20% will be affordable housing units, as well as approx. 000 square meters of commercial space. The project comprises of 1079 apartments and 298 houses. Solutions to the problem in Bath include a contentious adjustment to the green belt. However Bath and northeast Somerset (B & N E S) is seeking to develop more of its Brownfield sites than its Greenfield sites. One of the key brown field sites for redevelopment in Bath is the Western Riverside in the south west of the city. They are hoping to develop an area very similar to the redevelopment in the Greenwich millennium village in London.
The South west Regional development Agency is proposing a high density residential area for 5,000 people, integrated with leisure and industrial sites reached by a rapid transit system, cycle paths and walkways, this is in the hope to produce a sustainable development that cuts down on polluting journeys and shift the pressure from Baths rural-urban fringe. Although this could attract and area for wealthy dwellers that will continue to use their cars for leisure journeys and may even increase congestion in the city centre, if this happened it would not be a sustainable development for Bath.
Bath has a problem with congestion and as a result also suffers from severe air pollution, as Bath is situated on a bend in the Avon river there are few places to cross it into the city and as a result form’s many bottle necks which increase congestion and nitrogen dioxide levels. Also as Bath is situated on the steep sides of the Avon valley this discourages many people in bath to walk or cycle. One successful scheme has been bath park and ride service so much so that there has been a demand for more capacity.
Traffic policy in Bath can never be truly sustainable until it also addresses the type of public transport available. Buses may be efficient movers of people, but they contribute significantly to air pollution, most notably by the emission of diesel particles and nitrogen oxides. Unless the busses are replaced by a new fleet designed to use bio diesel or liquid petroleum gas, or by electric trams, Bath will continue to have an air pollution problem.
In order to be a sustainable city Bath will need to be able to deal with all of its waste on either dispose of it correctly or in most cases make the most use of it possible. In 2001 Bath dealt with 90,000 tonnes of waste of which 72% was deposited into landfill sites outside of the B & N E S area. Landfill is the least sustainable option for waste management as there is limited space on leakage can lead to contamination of water supplies.
Only 28% of Baths waste was recycled in 2001 but this was enough to earn the beacon status, compared to our European partners we are lagging behind as places such as the Netherlands recycle over 75% of there waste a year. In Greenwich Millennium Village recycling is paramount in the re sustainable environment, rain water is collected on the dome roof is used for toilets, rain falling on supermarket roof is used to water plants and water from baths, showers and wash basins is also used to water plants and to flush toilets.
They use solar panels and wind turbines to produce energy. Bath has a dedicated Agenda 21 team, which promotes sustainability through the council’s policies and public information systems. Bath has successful initiatives such as the Bath farmers market; this is manly been successful because they have been set up by local communities and thus grew rapidly.
But still the majority of the residents of Bath and surrounding areas still shop in large supermarkets and but non-organic often imported products. They use there cars to travel to the super market and return to a poorly insulated home were they recycle very little of their waste. And it is because of this that Bath is not yet a sustainable city and will most probably not become one for a long time if ever. However Bath is moving the correct direction unlike many of the cities in the UK.