Are the London Olympics sustainable?

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  • Created on: 18-03-13 22:50
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Are the London Olympics sustainable?
After London won the Olympic bid in 2005, they said that it would create a legacy of sustainability,
improving the lives for people in London's most deprived area. The area in the East end of London was in
serious need of rebranding as it was an area of multiple deprivation, there was a lack of affordable
housing, social problems e.g. crime and low paid (minimum wage) jobs. The Olympics was hoping to get
this area out of its rapid spiral of decline.
Firstly, a lot has been done to improve the environmental quality of the area the park provides a lot of
open spaces which will be used by local residents after the games and it is also becoming an important
wildlife habitat. A habitat plan was devised with the aim of conserving animals and plants. The Olympic
infrastructure is also attempting to be environmentally friendly, 97% of the materials from the demolished
buildings were reused and there will be low carbon levels due to the energy centre within the park, using
biomass fuels and natural gases. All the materials during construction were bought to the site by rail which
has a smaller carbon footprint than other modes of transport e.g. lorries. The athletes village is likely to
achieve a level 4 in the code for sustainable homes, this is the same as the environmental development
BedZED. The aquatic centre is going to become a swimming facility for local residents once the temporary
seating is removed which is helping to create community empowerment.
The intention of turning the athlete village into 3,000 affordable houses was to help create social justice,
however in 2010 there was a change in policy meaning that only 1,200 affordable homes were to be
created. Houses closes to the Olympic park are also experiencing a large increase in prices (in some places
by 70%) therefore the area is actually becoming less affordable overall, meaning that the Olympics are far
from encouraging social justice.
Economically, the area will supposedly become transformed creating thousands of jobs, job and training
opportunities will be created for local people and local residents are engaging in the planning of the park
(community empowerment). The international broadcast centre has been described as the "best connected
building in London" by the ODA, this is to create 3,000 jobs after the games. However, it hasn't been
completely economically beneficial for the area over 380 companies operated in the area before the
redevelopment, employing 11,000. Over 200 companies had to relocate and the amount of compensation
each company received was controversial many were still fighting claims of relocation in 2008.
In conclusion, there are several benefits and costs of the Olympics to the local area environmentally,
economically and socially. Probably the biggest issue is the lack of affordable housing that will be created,
therefore the promise of social justice for the area will not be met. However, the Olympic park being
environmentally friendly is not only creating a 'green' space for residents and wildlife but also promoting
'greenness' to the whole world. The question whether the games will be truly sustainable will remain
controversial however in my opinion I believe that the supposed 'legacy' will unlikely to be achieved unless
more is done economically for the residents and businesses within the area.


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