What are the impacts of industry on the physical environment?
In the past industrial growth has had a significant impact on the environment. Coal mining led to the creation of spoil heaps, vast mounds of waste material removed during extraction. Burning coal, to generate electricity, led to considerable air pollution in cities across the UK. Toxic waste materials from heavy industry have polluted the land and water supplies.
Due to changing attitudes and strict environmental laws, modern industries must be more considerate of their ecological impacts. The majority of industries nowadays develop based on sustainable principles. You need to know an example of how modern industrial development can be more environmentally sustainable.
The London Sustainable Industries Park (London SIP)
Located on the Thames Gateway, the London Sustainable Industries Park provides space for nine different businesses. The business park is located on a brownfield site that was formerly the Dagenham Ford car factory. The park has excellent communications including underground connections, the M25 motorway, City airport and national rail network.
The first three organisations to locate on the London Sustainable Industries Park including a recycling organisation, a sustainability research organisation and a company that specialises in the turning waste food into biogas (ReFood). The aim of the park is that the companies will all work together, sharing resources and ideas, exchanging waste and byproducts. The park has received government investment as it is seen as a good model for future industrial parks.
Nissan Car Plant, Sunderland
Car manufacturing was not sustainable in the past due to inefficient engines producing toxic pollutants, parts that were difficult to recycle and the energy-intensive production processes. However, the situation is very different today.
Over 7000 people are employed by Nissan at its car manufacturing plant in Sunderland. The factor has become efficient in a number of ways:
- The site has 10 wind turbines generating 6.6MW and 19,000 photo-voltaic panels (solar panels) generating 4.75MW of energy. This equates to 7% of the plant’s electrical requirements, enough to build 31,374 vehicles.
- Nissan is developing electric and hybrid cars.
- CO2 levels have been reduced by 22.4% since 2005.
- The Skills Academy for Sustainable Manufacturing and Innovation (SASMI) supports the industry’s future through specialist training. Based at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, SASMI provides a training infrastructure for sustainable manufacturing and the low carbon vehicle industry, and a learning facility for employers, apprentices and students, providing new skills for new jobs.
Wind turbines, solar panels and the Nissan Leaf at the Nissan factory, Sunderland