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1st March 2019

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Piotr Pawel Kociolek

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Brexit: What does it mean for the environment?

Michael Simpson reports on IEMA Futures' recent event, focusing on the effect of Brexit on the UK's environment

The timely nature of IEMA Futures' 'Brexit: What does it mean for the environment?' event, chaired by IEMA's chief policy advisor Martin Baxter, made for an engaging and thought-provoking discussion.On a windy February day in London, we were joined by aspiring students and young professionals from across the spectrum of the sustainability sector. As part of an interactive workshop, participants were able to look at a range of scenarios from air pollution to climate change through the eyes of stakeholders such as businesses, the general public, education and research and NGOs.

Generally, participants felt that environmental and sustainability issues have been overshadowed by the politically charged nature of Brexit, and that there was a risk of the government not delivering on promises to uphold (and better) the environmental commitments that are currently in place. This feeling was strengthened by the prospect of potential trade deals which, some have speculated, would require the UK to relax environmental standards.

However, what was clear was the potential for Brexit Britain to seize the opportunities granted by being an 'independent' nation. A post-Brexit Britain, whatever form that may take, has the potential to drive its own sustainability and environmental agenda, taking the chance to go even further than current EU legislation and be truly world leading in terms of carbon reduction, renewable energy, a more circular economy and the handling of waste. Therefore, it is up to us, as champions for sustainability and custodians for the built and natural environment, to make government, industry, and the public aware of this potential and the connection everybody has to the environment – whether they realise it or not.

Watch out for a full report on the discussion in next month's TRANSFORM

Designing for dementia

Laura Archer sets out how design can help people with dementia – something Newcastle University's NU-Age module is encouraging students to think about

There are roughly 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. This is only set to increase: Alzheimer's Society research predicts there will be one million people with dementia in the UK by 2021, and two million by 2051.

Design and location of housing for people with dementia must be carefully considered. Step-free apartments, plenty of lighting, signage and helpful aids such as handrails can have a huge impact. Those with dementia can be sensitive to noise, so this should be a factor when deciding on the location of the housing. Ensure that appropriate soundproofing is taken throughout the living space.

Attention to colour choice also has positive implications. Contrasting colours on doors, stairs and handrails draw attention to the feature, making it easier for someone with dementia to get around and build confidence.

It is vital that places are well signed and only a short walk away. Signage should be simple and frequent to ensure it is easily followed. Landmarks, architectural features and even benches can also aid with navigation.

Open space should be well designed with good lighting, benches and toilets, and should be located where noise levels are minimal. It can also be incorporated into housing developments – for those who can't leave the house, connecting with nature through viewpoints and windows can be beneficial.

It is important that people are taught about dementia so that mitigating elements can be incorporated into future developments. Newcastle University offers the option to study a cross-faculty module about ageing: Newcastle Ageing Generations Education (NU-AGE). The aims of the module include:

  • Demonstrating the relevance of ageing in the modern world
  • Emphasising positive concepts relating to ageing
  • Facilitating interaction between students and older people
  • Raising awareness of the ageing-related research being undertaken at Newcastle University.

Students are joined in lectures by older people, who offer their views on and experiences with ageing. Bringing education and intergenerational engagement together is a unique and brilliant concept, which other universities should consider adopting.

To find out more about the module, visit

To read an expanded version of this article, go to

Image credit: iStock


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