Stratford’s industrial and contaminated land transformed to create Britain’s largest urban park for over a century
An aerial view of the Olympic site in Stratford. Photograph: Anthony Charlton – Locog/EPA
Work to clean up the Olympic site in Stratford, east London, and create the largest urban park in Britain for more than 100 years has been completed, the Environment Agency has said.
An area the size of 297 football pitches, much of which was polluted, has been cleaned up, with 300,000 wetland plants and 2,000 native trees planted and five miles of the river Lea restored.
The Environment Agency, which has worked with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), the London Development Agency and other partners on the site said it had helped the ODA decontaminate 2m tonnes of soil so it could be reused.
On the river Lea, invasive species including Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and floating pennywort have been removed, along with concrete walls, to improve the river habitat for wildlife and users.
Some 22 miles of cycleways and footpaths have been put in and 44 hectares (110 acres) of land has been turned into reed beds, wet woodlands, grassland and ponds to attract wildlife, the agency said.
It also said that by making space in the park for floodwater and improving defences, the flood risk to about 4,000 properties in Canning Town and West Ham had been reduced.
Lord Smith, chairman of the agency, said: “The Olympic Park has shown the way in securing major environmental improvement at the same time as enabling large-scale construction and development.
“The Environment Agency has worked closely with the ODA on issues such as improving water quality, restoring habitats and reducing flood risk.”
Sir John Armitt, chairman of the ODA, said: “To have created Britain’s largest urban park for over a century out of a contaminated, industrial landscape has taken both determination and clever thinking.”
He said organisations such as the Environment Agency had helped them deliver the cleaned-up site.
The Olympic Park also has environmentally friendly facilities such as a waste water recycling plant and an energy centre producing enough low-carbon energy to power more than 10,000 homes.
Source: The Guardian