Edinburgh’s Water Vision

Climate change is going to impact on our lives in more ways than we can even imagine. In response to this, new developments and existing buildings in Edinburgh will have to change in order to support the needs of people. We will also need to consider how public realm, open space, infrastructure and streets are designed, agreed, constructed and maintained.

One of the ways we are preparing Edinburgh for these changes is through our Vision for Management of Water in the City of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh’s Water Vision is;

To develop a long-term and sustainable approach to river, coastal and storm water management across the city and its environs, respecting our unique historic heritage. This will involve all stakeholders and address the flooding and water quality risks associated with our changing climate as a result of changes in rainfall and sea level rise.

One key aim of the report is the need to manage the first 5mm of rainfall within every new development plot.

This is a big change for both planning and building standards, and will require building more raingardens, green roofs and other sustainable urban drainage features.

This will help more plants and wildlife to grow and create greener places for people to live, work and visit. It will also support healthier, happier and better off communities.

A greener city will make our neighbourhoods cooler, helping them become more resilient to heatwaves. This is important as our changing climate means extreme weather events like heatwaves are expected to increase.

Improving drainage

Much of Edinburgh has a historic combined sewer network. This means it carries both sewage and surface water to treatment works.

Our Vision for Management of Water will reduce the amount of clean surface water within the sewer network. This will help cut sewer flooding during heavy rainfall.

We also have a range of  Planning Flood guidance available to help. This will help people to design landscapes which, as well as holding back water to reduce flooding, will encourage plants and wildlife to grow.

As well as making these places nicer to spend time in, plants and wildlife will help to naturally clean rainwater before it reaches our rivers and streams.

This new way of working will enable the development of a city that is adaptive and resilient to climate change, that is also beautiful and biodiverse delivering a healthier, thriving and compact city with a higher quality of life for all residents.

The idea is to deliver transformational change in the way that water is valued and managed in the city.

Great Green Roof! City centre rooftop safari filmed at Council HQ

In common with several city centre buildings, the Council HQ at Waverley Court has rooftop gardens.  Green roofs on buildings have many benefits including improving energy efficiency, reducing the urban heat island effect and reducing water run off in the built environment.  They can also be a really good habitat for wildlife.

In recent years the grass areas on the Waverley Court roof have been changed into wildflower meadows to make them more attractive to people and pollinating insects.  Back on a sunny August day, Anthony McCluskey from Butterfly Conservation Scotland ran a butterfly and bumblebee safari to give staff a lunch break with a difference!  It was a lovely sunny day and you can watch some footage of the meadow and safari below.

Open Space 2021: Co-design of a new community park for Greendykes

Liz Thomas from Here + Now CIC gave the third presentation in a series of talks to raise awareness of Open Space 2021, Edinburgh’s new Open Space Strategy.

Liz’s talk focused on the process of co-design with the local community in Craigmillar which led to the final plans for a new park in Greendykes. This involved learning from local knowledge and organisations to give them a strong voice in the design process and shape a new park based on people’s needs.

The engagement process for the park started before any design was prepared. At the first community drop-in session held in Craigmillar Library, people choose images that spoke to them about what the future park could be.

People weren’t asked for a shopping list of items but how they would like to use the park, so that the designers could plan for these activities and functions according to the house builders’ budget.

Here+Now did a walkabout with P5 school children to discuss their hopes for the park and the children will continue to be involved as the park is built. This will include painting colourful ‘totem’ stakes for the park’s orchard trees.

Early designs for the park were presented at a sociable Christmas event in the library with festive wreath and decoration making. The park design will include feature trees to give it a sense of place, re-using some of the planting from the temporary greening at Edinburgh Quay.

Thank you to A+DS for use of their boardroom to hold the event.

You can watch a short video clip from the talk.

Open Space 2021: Edinburgh’s Living Landscape

Ian Mackenzie from Scottish Wildlife Trust gave the second in a series of talks to raise awareness of Open Space 2021, Edinburgh’s new Open Space Strategy. Ian manages the Trust’s Living Landscape programme across Scotland.

The Edinburgh Living Landscape is a unique urban project, involving the Council, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, University of Edinburgh and GreenSurge.

It aims to create, restore and connect green areas in the city to make attractive and biodiverse landscapes, enjoyed by residents and visitors.  Landscapes will be healthy, nature rich and resilient to climate change.

The Grey to Green shoreline project has been run with local schools to raise awareness of the city’s shoreline biodiversity and threats from climate change. The Square Meter For Butterflies initiative looks to expand the use of green roofs.

Working with local communities, over 70 meadows have been created in Council parks and greenspaces, using a mix of species suited to the city.  Other measures include:

  • reducing how often some areas of grass are cut and allowing natural grassland to thrive;
  • mowing pathways through areas of longer grass so they can still be explored and enjoyed;
  • tree planting and creating woodlands;
  • increasing our use of herbaceous perennial planting; and
  • bulb planting.

Ian showed a map of the city which marked the best places for pollinating insects like bees, flies, moths, butterflies and beetles to thrive. The map will guide the growth of Edinburgh’s network for nature, both in Council parks and in new developments.

You can also get involved through the Pollinator Pledge by making your garden more wildlife friendly or you can suggest new sites for living landscape projects by emailing parks@edinburgh.gov.uk

Here is a short video clip from the talk:

You can also watch Professor Catharine Ward Thompson from the University of Edinburgh speak about why greenspace is good for us.

Open Space 2021: Greenspace and Health talk

To raise awareness of some of the key themes of Open Space 2021, Edinburgh’s new Open Space Strategy, we are holding a series of lunchtime training sessions for staff.

Professor Catharine Ward Thompson from the University of Edinburgh gave us a great overview of her research into why greenspace is good for us.

Catharine is Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University and directs OPENspace – the research centre for inclusive access to outdoor environments.  The University is also one of the Council’s key partners for Edinburgh Living Landscape.

Catharine’s research has featured in the Green Health project for the Scottish Government, which looked at links between green space and stress in deprived urban populations. More recently Mobility, Mood and Place, focused on outdoor access and older people’s quality of life.

Catharine plans to deliver her talk to The Friends of Edinburgh Parks at their annual event later in the year.

The video below is a short clip from the talk.