City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Residents Voice Concerns About Trams Causing More Pollution

By edg - Posted on 29 March 2011

Air quality monitor

Edinburgh residents say their concerns about air pollution, caused by re-routing city centre trams traffic, is falling on deaf ears after a Council committee hearing yesterday.

The first meeting in a year of Edinburgh City Council's tram sub-committee aimed to address residents' concerns about pollution caused by re-routing traffic that would normally pass along Shandwick Place through surrounding residential streets in the West End.

Among those presenting was Ashley Lloyd of the Moray Feu Residents Association, who was  given a little over ten minutes to sum up two years of data.

Council advisor Professor Duncan Laxen, of Air Quality Consultants Ltd, maintained that the Council air quality data shows pollution levels are within EU limits.

However, in the interview with the Guardian (below), Lloyd explains why residents' concerns - linked to the unique character of the New Town architecture - were "not given appropriate consideration".


City of Edinburgh Council, tie, its contractors and Transport Scotland held mediation talks earlier this month to resolve the long-running dispute.

They reported that they had "a very constructive engagement and have established a mutual understanding of the key issues that have been impeding the progress of the Edinburgh Tram project."

They added that the parties are working "to firm up the framework for our future working arrangements and the successful delivery of the project."

However, there has been no announcement clarifying the timescale for, or the cost of, delivery of the trams.

Work on Edinburgh trams has ground to halt and the lack of information on the project is testing the resolve of even the most entrenched supporter of the beleaguered project.

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Residents of the New Town were infuriated when Gordon Mackenzie, Convenor of the Trams Sub Committee of the Transport Environment and Infrastructure Committee, cut short their presentation of evidence on the greatly increased pollution in the narrow streets of the Georgian New Town.   They had been promised a scientific discussion in order to get to the bottom of the increased pollution levels which their measurements have clearly been showing, however, this was cut short as the Council opted to impose a strict time limit on presentation time.

Professor Laxen stated that the Council had measured correctly in accordance with the existing DEFRA guidelines, however, the measuring system was changed by Professor Laxen recently which indicated to most people that the next logical step would be that all readings should have been re-calibrated in accordance with the new method.  This, the residents were told, was not required!   What an incredible and pathetic response when all that people were trying to do was to find out whether their health was going to suffer from constant exposure to the higher pollution.  To the residents this is a vital, indeed potentially a life threatening matter, yet the Council and in particular, Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, chose to produce a whitewash of the evidence presented and ruled out some items "due to time ".

Council officials were told by other members of the Committee at the end of the meeting to go away and arrange for some proper monitoring of pollution levels in basements and on the facades of houses - as they were told almost six months ago.   Janet Brown, the Senior Environmental Health Officer said it was extremely difficult to arrange this and pleaded not to insist on this requirement, however, it is to go ahead - so residents hope.   The residents pointed out that they had made several offers to Ms Brown to allow the measuring tubes to be placed on their property, but no one ever responded or even acknowledged the e-mail offers.  The Council were clearly not trying very hard!

This is not an idle and foolish claim because, if the residents are correct, then the City Council will be liable for a fine amounting to millions of Euros for breaching the EU limits on pollution, as well as possibly endangering the lives and health of the residents of the city - and Councillor Mackenzie will be to blame for failing to properly and diligently examine the evidence.