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Obstacles and Solutions to the Sustainable Development of British Cities

By ZiyuJi : –

The degree of urbanisation is an important indicator of a country’s economic development, especially for the development of industrial production. Britain is one of the first countries to begin the process of urbanisation, which has a close relationship with the first industrial revolution in Britain. The Industrial Revolution has greatly accelerated the process of urbanisation in Britain. Until today, the only country with an urbanisation level of 90% is the United Kingdom. Therefore, the United Kingdom is also the country with the highest level of urbanisation in the world.

At the same time, the UK was the first country to encounter the huge challenges from the environmental problems brought about by the industrial revolution and urbanisation andto formulate a sustainable development plan to ease the pressure of urbanisation in a relatively short period of time. Thus, it can be said that Britain has made several important contributions to the process of urbanisation in the world.

Sustainable development is considered to be a “plan and strategic process that strives to achieve a balance between economic, environmental and social values and goals”. It is also linked with economic development and prosperity, as well as environmental protection and integrity, and social fairness and justice. The premise of sustainable development is to reconcile these sometimes conflicting forces and maintain the continuity of development.Urbanisation has brought huge challenges to the sustainable development of British cities, especially in environmental and social aspects. These issues and their solutions will be discussed in the section below.

Environmental issues:
As far as the environment is concerned, with the advent of industrialisation, people have begun to increase the use of fossil fuels. After urban expansion, it is difficult for residents in low-density areas around the city to enjoy public transportation services, and the number of private cars continued to increase. Additionally, increasing energy consumption and urban congestion are getting worse. Air quality has declined, and noise pollution has increased.According to the British “Guardian” report, newly released figures show that by 2030, the air pollution levels in London, Birmingham, and Leeds will exceed European limits.Since 2010, the UK has exceeded the EU’s nitrogen dioxide pollution limit, causing the European Commission and environmental lawyers to take separate legal actions against these violations.Where the UK government will face a potential fine of 300 million pounds a year.

Nitrogen dioxide is mainly caused by exhaust emissions from diesel vehicles, which can aggravate the incidence of some diseases, such as asthma. Research has also begun to prove that particulate nitrogen dioxide pollution also poses a higher risk of early death from lung cancer and heart failure. According to the statistics from Public Health England, in the UK, air pollution causes approximately 29,000 deaths a year.This is contrary to the sustainable development goals publicised by the United Nations. Therefore, the British government needs to take actions to increase their environmental governance.

In order to solve urban environmental problems, in early 2019, the British government announced a new strategic plan, which will take a variety of measures to control air pollution in order to reduce the negative impact of air pollution to society. The strategy aims to reduce the amount of harmful particles in the air. The British government has pledged to halve the number of people living in areas with high levels of pollution by 2025. This suggests that the air quality in the UK will be greatly improved. Due to this strategy the economic loss caused by environmental problems has been reduced by 1.7 billion pounds, and by 2030, the annual economic loss is projected to be reduced by 5.3 billion pounds.

Moreover, the British government should gradually encourage the use of clean energy and renewable energy to reduce the use of fossil fuels and encourage enterprises and scientific and technical personnel to develop new environmentally friendly vehicles and increase investment in such vehicles.Therefore, car companies can bring more benefits to society and the environment. Encouraging people to use electric vehicles is also a good choice, but it would then be also necessary to increase investment in the construction of charging stations and provide residents with more charging equipment. As this would increase the public’s enthusiasm for using electric vehicles.

Sustainable travel can be measured by reducing the release of carbon dioxide from transportation, which can be achieved by increasing the use of public transportation, walking, biking, and local travel. Encouraging people to use public transportation such as buses and subways as much as possible and reducing the use of private cars would greatly benefit environmental quality. If the distance is not far, the public should be encouraged to bike and walk. As this would not only protect the environment but would also allow people to exercise and improve their quality of life. Some minors should also increase the use of bicycles and other means of transportation. As this is of great benefit to their physical and mental health. In terms of law, improving existing environmental protection laws and formulating new laws and policies are also indispensable actions for change which have an irreplaceable impact on the sustainable development of the urban environment.For example, the “Clean Air Law” and “Climate Change Law” that have been promulgated.

Social Issues:
Social sustainability is also one of the many challenges facing British cities. With the development of urbanisation, more and more people have poured into cities, and the development model of cities has largely become compact cities. A major feature of compact cities is high density, which also brings many social problems. Among them, the most noteworthy is social equity and the sustainable development of communities. These two issues are the main problems encountered in the sustainable development of British society.As far as social equity is concerned, social equality refers to the fair distribution of resources and the avoidance of exclusionary practices, allowing all residents to fully participate in society socially, economically and politically. It is closely related to environmental equity. And accessibility is usually regarded as an effective measure to measure social justice.

Residents are concerned about whether they can fairly visit some public places and use some public facilities, such as shopping in the supermarket, going to the cinema to watch movies, and equal use of public transportation. In this respect, the issue of social equality in British cities is in a healthy development, and there are no areas that urgently needs improvement. However, environmental equity in terms of social equality is a major issue. Green space is very precious in high-density cities. Green space resources in some communities has been unfairly distributed. Poor communities often lack green space resources and people do not have enough green space for entertainment. This has a negative impact on the physical and mental health of young people and children.

In addition, even if there are green spaces, the quality of these green spaces are low and it is difficult for residents to use them. For example, the pollution of green spaces has become more serious, and there are often situations such as random dumping of garbage and graffiti, and the lack of corresponding supervision, which will cause the public to lose interest in using these green spaces.

In addition, the sustainability of the community also needs to be solved. High-density compact cities decreases the distance between residents, promotes the interaction between people, and creates a more extensive social network. Unfortunately, this also brings a higher criminal rate,as criminals have the opportunity to reach more people, which provides opportunities for their crimes, and a decreasing sense of security from other members of the public. People pay more and more attention to their own safety and the safety of their living areas. Secondly, the closer the distance between people, the easier it is for others to spy on others’ personal privacy, and the resulting conflicts will increase. Sometimes the relationship between neighbours will deteriorate, thereby also affecting people’s quality of life.

Furthermore, the phenomenon of social retreat has become more and more obvious. Some people begin to refuse to associate with others, which affects their physical and mental health. Withdrawal can lead to depression, loss of confidence in life, lower attachment to residential areas, and thus an overall lower quality of life. In addition, the community’s green space and public facilities lack supervision, and some vicious incidents usually occur, such as the destruction of public facilities thereby rendering residents unable to use them. The green space is decorated at will, and littering will have a negative impact on the residents’ psychology, reduce the residents’ sense of security, and undermine the sustainability of the community.

In order to solve the problem with environmental fairness, relevant governmental departments should pay attention to the importance of urban design and layout and can set up some access points in public places, which will help the interaction between residents and the use of green resources. These green spaces need to be supervised and governed by relevant personnel. It is best that the community arrange for relevant staff to conduct daily inspections and cleanings, which can improve the residents’ quality of life while also enhancing the residents’ sense of security and make residents more attached to the residential area. This is also a major measure to improve the sustainability of the community. Security, social interaction and attachment to the place of residence are several important indicators of the sustainability of the community.

On the other hand, the layout of the city can also be changed for it be able to effectively protect personal privacy while promoting interaction between neighbours. For example, this can be achieved through ensuring there are strategic locations related near residential areas have good visual connections with open spaces. Additionally, the distance from the residential area to the street and the area of the private outdoor space in front of the residence require special attention, because these areas are important places for privacy protection and should be reasonably protected and arranged. Although there are no urgent problems in social justice, some service organisations must still be urged to improve service quality and create better service for residents to satisfy their daily lives. For example, in places such as supermarkets, shopping malls, and cinemas, more convenience, preferential policies and service quality are provided to the disabled.

(Mr.ZiyuJi, Master of Science, Graduated from the University of Strathclyde, UK)

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