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Supporting green river engineering

Posted: 25-May-2017

The green infrastructure (GI) network is made up of natural and semi-natural features that connect and run through our urban spaces. Rivers form a key part of this green network, and GI approaches can be used to help conserve and restore these natural features by improving water quality, morphology and natural habitats.

HR Wallingford has published new evidence-based support for asset managers, engineers, decision-makers and other end-users that identifies the critical success factors to support the selection and application of green engineering approaches for river protection. Green approaches in river engineering: supporting implementation of Green Infrastructure is available as a free ebook from HR Wallingford.

GI approaches strengthen the functionality of river ecosystems by greening the new and existing river infrastructure. They also help compliance with the environmental aspects of the Floods and Water Frameworks Directives.

Despite these obvious benefits, a number of obstacles exist that prevent green infrastructure approaches from being used as part of river engineering schemes. These often softer approaches can be perceived as having higher risk of failure, or have a lack of design and maintenance support available to support their use, and it has previously been unclear to stakeholders how to demonstrate and communicate their multiple benefits. Green approaches in river engineering: supporting implementation of Green Infrastructure brings together the strategic arguments and the technical information needed to support the selection of GI approaches and, through a series of case studies, provides sound evidence on constructability, engineering performance and environmental and social benefits.

Marta Roca, HR Wallingford’s project manager, said:
“In this publication we provide a decision support framework that addresses both the business case and the technical requirements for GI approaches. We give regulators and planners authoritative material to share with designers and contractors at the early planning stages of a project to help support the selection of suitable green or green-grey measures. In practice, these measures won’t be used in isolation, but this publication will help the river management community integrate sustainable and cost-effective green options into their river corridors.”

Green approaches in river engineering: Supporting implementation of Green Infrastructure (ISBN 978-1-898485-16-2) is free to download from HR Wallingford's eprints site. The publication was developed as part of a NERC-funded project led by HR Wallingford; partners included the River Restoration Centre, Environmental Policy Consulting, CIRIA, University of Liverpool and University of Nottingham. The project was driven by the needs of the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, the Welsh Local Government Association and Natural England.

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