Blueprint for reusing Europe's old industrial sites

Sep 20, 2013
Blueprint for reusing Europe's old industrial sites
Credit: Shutterstock

In densely populated Europe, the effective use of all available land is essential for economic growth. In this context, so-called 'brownfields' - abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities - provide an opportunity to turn such land into productive areas.

However, such sites are often contaminated and therefore need to be cleaned up and made safe before they can be turned into for local communities. Clean-up can be a costly , difficult and take a lot of time. These barriers mean the reuse of brownfield sites remains low.

The EU-co-funded project TIMBRE ('An integrated framework of methods, technologies, tools and policies for improvement of brownfield in Europe') is working to overcome the barriers to redeveloping .

In Europe, there are over 20 000 large and complex contaminated sites. These megasites pose an to scarce soil and .

Stephan Bartke from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, TIMBRE's project coordinator, says the researchers are developing technologies and tools for the investigation, assessment and recovery of such megasites.

"Megasites are especially challenging not only because of their huge area - former steel plants, military bases, airports or mining sites, for example - but because of the complex revitalization challenges, for example the severity of contamination, " he says. "Another common problem is the diversity of stakeholder interests regarding their re-use or preservation."

Bartke says it is important to understand these challenges as opportunities when using for site investigation and remediation, assessing sustainable re-use options in ecological, economic and social terms, and when including a wide variety of stakeholders and in the revitalisation process.

And this is exactly what the TIMBRE project is doing - starting with a comprehensive review of projects, programmes and initiatives for brownfield assessment and reuse.

Project partners are developing a series of tailored supporting measures for specific end-users, including a web-based system to help 'problem owners', regulators or service providers to develop their own brownfield regeneration solutions.

"We are using specific test sites to demonstrate our tools and thereby help a range of local communities, for example in Poland and Romania," Bartke says.

Data for study sites in Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic and others have also been collected and processed.

"We are organising training, demonstration and dissemination events to spread our accumulated knowledge and project results among local partners," Bartke says.

He adds: "However, one of our prime interests is to provide more general results, applicable to sites other than just the TIMBRE test sites. The impact of our project is potentially huge as our work could be of benefit to all site redevelopments in Europe and globally."

TIMBRE received EUR 3.4 million in EU funding and is due to end in June 2014.

Explore further: Transparency 'key to a successful clean-up'

More information: www.timbre-project.eu

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Macrocompassion
not rated yet Sep 21, 2013
This article makes the assumption that so called "brown sites" have been forgotten about. The opposite is true. The landowners are deliberatly holding these sites out of use so that when the surroundings are more developed the price of the land of these sites will be higher. This practice of speculation in land values stops many useful sites being used and makes the cost of what is in use greater. It leads to higher production costs, less demand for produce and more unemployment.

By taxing land values instead of incomes the brown fields will be a thing of the past and the country will progress to become more efficient in the use of the land.

TAX LAND NOT PEOPLE; TAX TAKINGS NOT MAKINGS!