Reclaim our greenest status, Newcastle should be a bee-friendly and environmentally sustainable city

February 3, 2021 5:32 PM

Bees and HoneyIn 2010, Newcastle was the greenest city in the UK, focusing on the city's bee strategy. (1) We need to reclaim that, Cllr Robin Ashby will tell Newcastle City Council tonight.

75% of crops rely on bees and other pollinators for fertilisation - on farms and orchards, our back gardens, balconies and allotments. Maintaining bee populations is crucial.

Declining bee numbers are affected by habitat loss and climate change; continued reluctance to recognise the criticality of the situation accelerates the problem. Bee friendly cities help to balance those losses, especially with links to the wider environment, as Newcastle has; close to open countryside and the planned B-line skirting the perimeter of the city. (2)

In creating Urban Green, Council lost the options of directly implementing bee friendly policies open expanses of the city. Consequently, other opportunities need to be seized.

Creating a bee friendly city, both horizontally and vertically, with green roofs and living walls, encourages and supports bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other species critical to sustaining biodiversity. In addition, vast quantities of dust and toxic emissions would be absorbed. Colourful city centre pollinator patches could also contribute to much needed street cooling - especially if tree planting was included.

With 92% of city centre surfaces impermeable, drainage systems are often unable to cope with high volumes of rain, leading to flash floods. Introducing bee and environmentally-friendly, blue-green, nature-based solutions could slow runoff and contribute to managing that.

Developing bee corridors and pollinator patches throughout the city, making use of citywide verges, roundabouts, empty plots of land and any underused green spaces including walls and rooftops, would benefit social welfare and mental health - vibrant wildflower patches and planters throughout the city are much more uplifting than grey tarmac and scalped, brown verges.

Bee, and wildlife friendly, planting - much of which could be perennial, creates a much improved environment for all life. Hence the reason the Great North Road 'golden mile' of daffodils and the 'bluebell ribbon' of Grandstand Road are so greatly valued.

Becoming bee friendly would bring multiple benefits to everyone living and working in the city. - another tourist strand to explore. Worldwide, restaurants in many cities grow rooftop salad and herb plots or house bee hives - a potential tourist attraction. In Singapore, city centre wildlife is as big a draw as anything else.
Bee-friendly Newcastle would re-join the rapidly expanding list of Bee Friendly cities. It's time Newcastle was known not only as a party city, but as a bee friendly, environmentally sustainable green city. It's time we reclaimed our No.1 position.

1 Naturevation: https://naturvation.eu/
Urban Regional Innovation Programme https://naturvation.eu/cities

2 B-Lines: https://www.buglife.org.uk/our-work/b-lines/b-lines-north-england/