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A report published by the RAC Foundation (an independent motoring organization) states that almost a third of the front gardens at 20.8 million UK homes have have been turned into driveways. This means that almost 7 million homes have had the conversion, which means an area equivalent to around 100 Hyde Parks has been concreted over. This growing trend has led to increased flooding issues, and poses a threat to British wildlife.

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Over the past few weeks, the UK has been beset by heavy rain creating the wettest June on record and severe flooding in many parts of the country. The RAC’s report, titled Spaced Out: Perspectives on Parking policy, cautions that small-scale changes to the landscape—even ones front garden—could worsen the problem.

Of course, this is all down to the increase in car ownership over the past 20 years which now totals 28 million, but is expected to rise to 32 million over the next two decades.

Speaking to The Guardian, Prof Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC charity said the conversions were down to poor parking regulation on the part of local councils: “We fear councils regard parking provision as an afterthought. Unlike their legal obligation to keep traffic moving there is no law that makes them provide adequate space for stationary cars, though we would regard the two topics as inextricably linked.

“On the face of it parking is an inconsequential act. But it is a hugely emotive topic and providing adequate parking in the right place at the right price is a big challenge for planning authorities.”

The effects of turning gardens into driveways means that water run-off is increased, making drains more likely to overflow. The Committee on Climate Change Adaptation Sub-Committee’s (ASC) progress report has already highlighted the increase in paved-over gardens as a danger during periods of flooding. Of course, in the summer months, it can also have a equally devastating effect as the increased concrete intensifies the urban heat island effect, potentially magnifying the effects of heatwaves in cities.

Then, of course, there is the impact on local wildlife. It is unsurprising that the annual loss of 7,410 acres of gardens has affected insect and animal populations.

“Front gardens are an incredibly valuable wildlife resource in any urban environment and in London gardens represent 24% of land,” said Carlo Laurenzi, chief executive of the London Wildlife Trust. “The removal of each tree, hedge or square metre of lawn is a loss not only of the plants involved, but also for the wildlife that depends upon them for food and shelter. London’s gardens provide valuable habitat for a range of wild plants and animals including birds, mammals, amphibia and a huge variety of invertebrates.”

+ Spaced Out: Perspectives on Parking policy

via The Guardian

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