The Beyond 2012: Greening the Games campaign is calling for the Government to follow best procurement practice to avoid a repeat of the planting problems at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Campaign steering committee member and Johnsons of Whixley director Andrew Richardson said: “We have got a fantastic opportunity. With the timescale, we have got to do this right.”
Owner George Glavakis of Greek company Glavakis Nurseries said his industry had lobbied the Greek government “from an early stage” but “this did not translate into action”, despite a good response.
Just 12 months before the 2004 games, the Greek government decided landscaping was needed, but by then it was too late for nurseries to set about growing.
Landscape architects panicked and brought in thousands of trees from Pistoia, Italy. But many were returned to Italy after the landscape architects realised they had too many. Landscapers cut plans to plant 17,000 trees to just 9,000. Tree planting ran up to the day the games started.
Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyannis said tree planting came too late in the plans, adding: “Some of the venues had only decorative planting, which is of absolutely no use.”
Richardson said: “Athens is what we want to avoid. If there ever
was a blueprint of how not to do
it, that was it.”
For the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, landscape architect Gillespies, main contractor Laing and landscape contractor Ashlea Landscapes contacted Hillier Nurseries early in the process to buy trees. This helped to ensure no last-minute panic buying, allowed containerised planting outside the winter planting season, made sure trees were in leaf at the start of the games and reduced transport costs by using a UK nursery.
Richardson said: “Manchester was a really good job. It was planned well in advance with a joined-up approach.”
He added that the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, a five-million-plant project, finished on time and to cost. “You can only do that if it’s done properly. If it’s left to the last minute it won’t work and no one will be happy with what’s left.”
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