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Petra Kolínská (Green Circle) a David Povolný (Frank Bold)  19. 10. 2020

Municipalities want to build blue-green infrastructure but do not require these measures from investors

As part of a research of municipalities' interest in elements of the so-called blue-green infrastructure, Green Circle in cooperation with the law firm Frank Bold Advokáti approached a total of 250 municipalities. The aim was to find out information about the practice of using specific measures, such as seepage areas, tree planting or rainwater management.

At the same time, the survey examined the attitude of municipalities towards private investors and the demands regarding blue-green infrastructure for their projects. It turned out that only a minority of municipalities require these from investors.

The 230 responses mainly from municipalities associated in the National Network of Healthy Cities and through the National Network of Local Action Groups showed that almost a quarter of the addressed municipalities implemented some of the blue-green measures at their initiative and almost half of them are preparing to implement them. However, only nine percent of the municipalities contacted required the construction of this infrastructure from private investors. However, one third of the respondents stated that they considered it appropriate to set a mandatory contribution for private investors to build blue-green infrastructure when the project is exceeding a certain limit.

Tree planting is cool, using rainwater is a problem

One of the municipalities’ most preferred measure is tree planting. However, according to municipalities, there is a number of obstacles in the way – interference with utility networks, lack of funds for after planting care or lack of suitable land for planting. Only a quarter of municipalities do not encounter obstacles.

The capture and use of rainwater and gray (used) water is often hampered by a lack of enlightened designers and higher cost. According to the approached municipalities, a precise legal definition of service water and the establishment of clear rules for the use of gray water and water retained in the building envelope or on the surrounding paved area would help.

Municipalities fear the inclusion of blue-green infrastructure in the urban plan due to the risk of higher financial compensation to landowners. These areas would thus be converted into areas that cannot be developed. There are also problems with the fragmented ownership of brownfields and the small willingness of owners to build on such land.

“A high degree of compliance was shown by the survey when it comes to redefining the relationship between technical infrastructure and greenery. We already know the technical solution for the coexistence of utility networks and tree roots, but standards and legislation are lagging behind. The other priority for municipalities is new sources for financing blue-green infrastructure. The transparent involvement of private investors should be transposed into legislation as soon as possible.”

Petra Kolínská, the Green Circle

“For larger construction projects, it is ideal if the municipality transparently agrees to cooperate with the developer. The aim should be to agree on measures to ensure a quality life for people in the municipality and future users of the construction projects. One of the tools to make this possible can be principles for developers. We have experience with this from Jihlava or the Union of Municipal Districts of the Capital City of Prague. Also, the quality of regulations within the framework of urban planning and transparent relations in the municipality leading to the quick approval of the plan are fundamentally important for positive shifts in the construction industry. I believe that we will soon create a social climate that supports fair cooperation between developers and local governments for the benefit of us all.”

Pavel Franc, director of Frank Bold

“We are very grateful for knowing the obstacles, problems, but also the opportunities that emerged from the survey. It is in associations such as the National Network of Healthy Cities that municipalities can actively share their experiences and pass on good as well as bad examples and their follow-up solutions. Everything is always better with experts’ support, whether it is experts and practitioners on a given topic, such as the blue-green infrastructure, or experienced and passionate lawyers,”

Petr Švec, director of National Network of Healthy Cities Czech Republic

“Municipalities in the territories of Local Action Groups are mostly aware of the importance of better water management and care for greenery. That is why our working group for the environment has created a manual that helps local governments implement projects in accordance with current trends and requirements for blue-green infrastructure.”

Marek Hartych, National Network of Local Action Groups Czech Republic

Research summary:

– out of a total of 250 approached municipalities, 230 of them responded to the questionnaire.
24% of respondents have already implemented blue-green infrastructure measures, 47% are planning to do so. The most common measures are: tree planting, seepage areas, rainwater retention and management facilities, other urban greenery.
9% of respondents requested elements of blue-green infrastructure in projects of private investors.
64% of municipalities describe problems with tree planting. These are most often interference with utility networks, lack of funds for after planting care or lack of suitable land for planting. 26% do not encounter problems. In 10% of cases, the inhabitants of the village do not want planting, most often due to a collision with parking spaces.
The use of rainwater is most often associated with: criticism of the lack of trained designers, higher investment costs, the lack of definition of utility water in the relevant legislation and the addition of spatial analysis data on the water regime of the area.

Urban greenery Tree Planting Water in the City 

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