E-CLIC Case Study #32

Nervion River

1. Description and context; a brief introduction
The Nervion River is located in a Valley of a region of rugged and mountainous relief, resulting in urban, industrial and infrastructure land uses being concentrated in the flattest areas. The project is described in the 'Special Plan of the Nervion Linear Park', for the area between the towns of Delika and Llodio, and is being implemented in phases. The proposal is based on developing a pedestrian-cyclist axis which follows the course of the river, and is connected to the system of railway stations and halts. The aim is to regenerate the landscape associated with the river and to promote ecological connectivity between different towns through which the river passes.
2. Country
3. Location
Nervión River from Celika until Llodio (see figure 1)
4. Year
5. Landscape Type
6. Policy associated with (please note if this project is part of a wider sustainable development strategic and political framework)
The “Special Plan of the Nervion Linear Park' was approved on 30thOctober 2006. It is based on a previous one (“Partial Territorial Plan of Llodio functional area”, 25thJanuary 2005). The wording of the Special Plan has taken into account the following higher level policies: “Territorial Plan of Wetlands”, “Territorial Management Plan of banks of Rivers and Streams in the Basque Country”, “Proposed areas for inclusion in the Natura 2000 Network”, “Comprehensive Plan Flood Prevention' and “Comprehensive Plan of Álava roads”.

7. Policy target associated with the implementation of the project:

7.1 Type of target
7.2 Description of the concrete targets
The main objective of the “Special Plan of the Nervion Linear Park' was to create a regulatory and detailed framework which addressed the needs of each stretch of the river, and providing a unified perspective to the intervention. Specific projects which address the detailed requirements of each phase would follow development of the plan.

8. Implementing agents

8.1 Main actors involved
The Plan was written by LKS Ingenieria. It was contracted and coordinated by the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment of the Basque Government (Directorate of Spatial Planning and Directorate of Water Management), and Department of Environment and Planning of the Provincial Council of Alava. The City Councils of the seven towns involved in the Special Plan (Amurrio, Llodio, Orduña, Ayala, Orozco, Arakaldo and Arrakundiaga) were responsible for purchasing and land lease for the Plan and developing the execution projects.
8.2 Funding
The project was funded jointly by the Provincial Council of Alava (50%) and the Basque Government (50%) which signed cooperation agreements in 2008.
8.3 Public participation
The drafting team met with the Provincial Councils of Alava and Vizcaya, with the town councils involved and Administrative Boards. Many proposals including conception of the strategic plan were the result of these meetings.

9. Contributions to the specific measures proposed by the ELC
Citizens Engagement
10. The challenge
There are three challenges. The principal one is to create a continuous linear park linked to the Nervion River to enhance the river area, and to offer easily accessible natural spaces to the local population. A second challenge is to promote an ecological alternative (on foot, by bike, by train) for the displacements between the municipalities involved in the Plan. A further challenge is to enhance the relationship between the river and the urban area through which it passes. Taking advantage of the intervention, it should also be used to restore the ecological quality of the environment (water, habitats, flora and wildlife).

11. The solution

11.1 Measures and actions proposed to address the project challenges
To achieve the first objective, 8 of the 33 km defined in the “Special Plan of the Nervion Linear Park” have been constructed, in three phases.
i)The creation of a pedestrian-cyclist axis, with 10 bridges (totaling 567 meters in length) to provide river crossings, the construction of a 13 m long tunnel to avoid crossing a railway, and the restoration of 35,000 m2of riverside area.
ii)The new concrete road connects the railway stations and halts to support daily work itineraries, walks and weekend leisure trips, taking advantage of the connections between the rail and bicycle routes. Some new roads have been introduced, with others reusing existing walking trails managed by the different municipalities. This new network is also linked to the existing network of green routes of Alava.
iii) Specific projects have converted the riverbanks which link the town and the new urban parks.
11.2 Degree of success in achieving the challenges
All the challenges have been met with completion of the three phases of work, with supporting evidence from the user study conducted.
11.3 Main factors in the consecution of proposed objectives
Collaboration between institutions enabled the principal objectives to be achieved. It was important to subdivide the overall proposal into smaller components and phases which were gradually undertaken to produce a coherent and unified project.

12. Methodology proposed to reach the expected solution

12.1 Instruments used
The most important instrument was the “Special Plan of the Nervion Linear Park',which drew together the needs identified along the river to regenerate and transform it into a park. The implementation was done in stages.
12.2 Participation process involved
Several meetings were held between the editors and public institutions involved to develop the Special Plan, leading to some changes in content. Projects which develop different aspects of the Plan, or respond to the requirements in the Plan, require to be available to the public for consultation before approval can be completed.

13. Lessons learnt
This project shows how the regeneration of river banks can be used to deliver wider positive benefits. The importance of a single and clear aim (pedestrian-cyclist axis which follows the course of the river) used to organize and unify the overall intervention, provided a framework for resolving some wider needs of the municipality.
14. Key References