Industry, Land and Health
‘Land’ is our biggest resource, providing us with food, energy, textiles and both building space and green space. As many nations and regions move away from industry as a means of generating wealth, so we are left with the legacy of our past industrial activities. This ‘brownfield’ land is often contaminated and remediation can be necessary to reduce risks to human health. In the UK, it is policy to reclaim this land and the majority of new builds are on brownfield land (over 76% in 2008). The use of earth as a sustainable building material is also a growing trend in the UK and worldwide as people demand more sustainable construction techniques. Predicted increases in global population mean that we won’t have enough land to provide all the resources we’ll need, emphasising the necessity for us to use what land we do have as sustainably as possible.
Not all industrial ‘waste’ is hazardous and much can be recycled. However, hazardous waste which is not recyclable ultimately ends up on or in the land, either dumped illegally or legally-disposed to landfill sites. Since both of these activities take place where land is cheapest, it is commonly land that is close to or even inhabited by the poorest communities. Much brownfield land is situated in areas of high deprivation in the UK and internationally. Further, whereas land can induce a sense of well-being, especially certain forms of landscape, brownfield land, commonly lacking in vegetation and still showing the physical legacy of industrial uses, may actually contribute to people’s sense of ‘ill-being.’
The aim of this Programme of Work is to explore innovative ways of breaking the close linkages between the risks arising from historical industries, their legacy in the landscape and the health and well-being of the communities who live on and near brownfield sites. Central to the work will be exploring how ‘wastes,’ including ‘wasted’ land can be transformed into ‘resources’ in order to optimise the use of land for both green space and green building, thereby promoting maximum wellbeing.
Dr Clare Bambra (Geography)
Dr Karen Johnson (Engineering)
Dr Charles Augarde (Engineering)
Dr Chris Gerrard (Archaeology)
Dr Steve Robertson (Engineering)
Dr Peter Swift (Physics)
Dr David Toll (Engineering)
- Industry, Land and Health (last modified: 28 March 2012)