Blog

20 Raingardens for Kinross in 2020

February's blog comes from SGIF member and raingarden expert, Dr Brian D'Arcy. Here, he introduces a fantastic new community-based raingarden initiative to install 20 raingardens in and around Kinross in 2020:

What is a raingarden?

“An area of vegetation designed to accept rainfall runoff”

  • These can be large scale ‘community raingardens’ – features draining a road or several properties.
  • Or can be small scale (e.g. house plot)

Runoff is the rain draining from the roof, yard, driveway of a property, or from roads, fields, forests etc elsewhere.  The rainwater draining from roads and other surfaces mobilises pollutants, as well as creating a flood risk.  The raingardens use the natural self-purification properties of plants, sunlight and soils, to breakdown pollutants such as traces of oil in runoff. The features also have far more storage for rainstorm flood waters than conventional gullies and pipes.

There are several examples in Kinross-shire, as below, but a lot of scope for more:

  

Wildflower swale (no road gully or drainage pipes on either side of the road) and a wetland, West Kinross

  

Raingarden soakaway and raised bed raingarden Kinnesswood, and feature at commercial unit, West Kinross

The Kinross-shire Civic Trust raingardens challenge

The Civic Trust has advocated better, more attractive and effectively drained houses and other developments in and around Kinross for many years.  Place-making has become an in-vogue term in town planning, but the scope for raingardens is often overlooked. By setting the modest challenge to have 20 raingardens in 2020, the Trust is working with a range of local organisations to bring volunteer enthusiasm, backed by professional expertise and experience, to actively promote raingardens.

The Trust is encouraging properties across Kinross-shire to consider creating raingardens on their premises.  Community benefits can include reduced risks of local flooding of properties and roads; the green space is the safest place for water from intense rainstorms to linger whilst harmlessly draining away. Other benefits can be habitat creation and habitat linkage.  Especially in the older parts of town, taking the roof or driveway drainage out of the sewer system will help reduce sewer overflows during intensive rainstorms (an increasing problem with climate change in Britain). The Trust is also working to create a Raingardens Trail in West Kinross, promoting the existing features in dialogue with owner-occupiers (Perth and Kinross Council and local commercial sites).

What are other places doing?

Road traffic calming build-outs, and landscaping features in pedestrianised streets, are increasingly being created by local councils as multi-purpose features which add greenery and interest to the district.  We would like to see this in Kinross-shire too.

  

Cardiff (left, 1-2) – why not Kinross-shire?                                                            Melbourne

Green places are now recognised as important for a sense of well-being.  Perth and Kinross could achieve similar successes.

How are we trying to encourage raingardens?

With support from local community groups, Scottish Water, Perth and Kinross Council, and SEPA, the Civic Trust hopes to facilitate the creation of 20 or more raingardens in Kinross-shire in 2020.  The aim is to exemplify the opportunities with actual examples of good practice and publish that in new community publications, in magazines and blogs.  The progress will be tracked and reported regularly in the Kinross Newsletter, through the Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum and their 10,000 Raingardens for Scotland campaign and on www.susdrain.org.uk .

We welcome opportunities to work with developers trying to maximise benefits from the requirements to drain their properties, and also interested individuals.

If you are interested, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Green Infrastructure Development of the Year award

The Scottish Home Awards is Scotland’s first and foremost awards programme for new build housing in Scotland. Every year since 2005, it promotes the high-quality work of Scottish housebuilders via a wide ranging programme which is operated free from commercial influence and judged by a highly experienced and independent judging panel.

The objectives of the Scottish Home Awards are to provide an all-inclusive programme which :-

  • Improves the perception of housebuilding within the general public by profiling high quality construction and customer service.
  • Rewards high performing teams with industry wide recognition and an opportunity to celebrate at our annual awards dinner.
  • Recognises excellence in design, construction and team working

Scottish Natural Heritage are delighted to be announcing their sponsorship of a “Green Infrastructure Development of the Year Award” as part of the 2020 Scottish Homes Awards. This is a brand new award that will recognise the efforts of a private developer or housing association to deliver multi-functional green and blue infrastructure as part of a nature rich, high quality housing development.

Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate how the green and blue infrastructure elements of their development delivers functions such as surface water management and climate resilience, habitats for wildlife, outdoor play and learning and opportunities to connect people and nature.

For more information, and to apply click here.

 

School Raingardens in North Lanarkshire

Novembers blog comes from Emilie Wadsworth at Central Scotland Green Network Trust, part of the team leading on the 10,000 Raingardens for Scotland campaign on behalf of SGIF:

Throughout 2019, North Lanarkshire Council, Central Scotland Green Network Trust and the 10,000 Raingardens for Scotland project have been working on an innovative school raingarden project.

The aim is to install a range of raingarden features within schools that suffer from flooding resulting in their playground being unusable at certain times of the year. Alongside this, and educational programme is being run to teach the pupils about environmental issues such as flooding, pollution and the impacts that urban expansion and development can have of the water cycle. They learn about how these can be reduced through the use of raingardens, and nature-based surface water management interventions, and the advantages that these can have over traditional pipes and drains.

The children are integral to the design and location of the raingardens to be installed at their school. During the class sessions, they identify areas of flooding in the school grounds, from puddles, to muddy swamps on the grass, and from blocked drains to temporary “streams” that run across the grounds during or just after rainfall. Following this, they are involved in a co-design workshop where they start to think of solutions to the problems, using examples from across the world.

So far, five primary schools have been involved, with concept designs produced for each one. Following discussions with the council, teachers and maintenance staff, some designs will be worked up in to detailed plans and installed in early 2020. The educational sessions will be finalised and supplemented so that they can be run by teachers in their own classrooms and will become an online resource with clear links to the Eco-school curriculum highlighted, for any schools to use.

Village Elves Hideaway

This month, to get us into the festive spirit, we thought we'd share a great example of environmental sustainability and green infrastructure from Finnish Lapland - the Village Elves Hideaway, particularly the green roof on Wise Elf's House!. 

For the full article, images and inspiration, click here: https://oppla.eu/casestudy/19340

Green screens and Ecosystem services

The newest blog comes from Neil Jackson, a student at the University of Glasgow in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences. Neil’s research is focused on vertical greening systems and the ecosystem services they can provide in urban environments.

Overview

This green screen trial forms the first experimental section of this CASE-funded PhD project and is part of a wider University of Glasgow initiative called the 'Smart Campus'. Air pollution and flooding are major global urban challenges. This trial, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, is designed to evaluate how well green screens compare to traditional construction hoarding to trap air pollutants and slow down rainfall runoff. It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council with support from Arup, Mobilane and Multiplex.

Why do this? Why Glasgow?

A report by the Royal College of Physicians in 2017 found that 44 out of 51 UK cities were above WHO guidelines for particulate matter (PM). Glasgow registered as the highest in the UK for fine particulates (PM2.5). Recent studies have suggested that these particles not only do damage to the respiratory system, but every organ in the human body.

Meanwhile, changing weather patterns brought about by climate change and an increase in impervious surfaces caused by rapid urbanisation has increased the risk of both fluvial and surface water flooding. Surface flood risk maps produced by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) show that surface water flood risk is prevalent across the extent of Glasgow.

What are Green Screens?

Green screens are comprised of a planter and a mesh upon which climber vegetation grows, thus forming a screen which can be freestanding, attached to buildings or used in the place of traditional fencing or construction hoarding. The structure of green screens makes them easier to install and maintain than other urban green infrastructure solutions such as living walls and street trees, meaning they are relatively inexpensive in comparison. Along with policy, local-scale interventions such as this could be an effective tool in managing air quality and pluvial flood risk associated with climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Preliminary Results

Preliminary results have shown that PM counts are lower in front of green screens compared to the control screens (plywood construction hoardings). Whilst this effect varies, the largest reductions have been measured during monitoring periods with the highest particle counts and thus their effectiveness as buffers during high pollution events.

Similar results can be seen for rainfall runoff, with the highest reductions are posted during the highest rainfall events.

Further Trials

A further trial site has recently (July 2019) been set up at the Atlantic Square development site in Glasgow city centre. This trial, which is supported by Bam Construction, Arup and Mobilane, will use Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) in conjunction with real-time particle count data to assess the particle capture performance of green screens, each comprised of a different species of vegetation with different microcharacteristics: Helix hedera (Common Ivy), Euonymus fortunei (Dart’s Blanket) and Carpinus betulus (hornbeam). The characteristics of each species that contribute the most to particle capture will be assessed and a matrix of suitability built in order to aid in the selection of species for future projects.