Greens seek answers on Haymarket air pollution

Green councillors have raised concerns about the impact of new developments on one of the city’s pollution blackspots.

Following a meeting of Full Council in September, Green Councillor, Steve Burgess won backing for a motion seeking action on air pollution, recognising that in 3 years the city could be fined for breaching air quality standards.

But now another Green councillor, Maggie Chapman, has raised concerns about air pollution impacts of the planning application by Tiger Developments around the Morrison Street, Haymarket and Dalry Road area.

The area is one of Edinburgh’s notorious pollution blackspots, and is set to fail stringent new laws on pollution from 2010 onwards.  The Greens believe that the only thing that keeps pollution from being much worse is the relatively open nature of the Haymarket junction. They fear that the Tiger development which includes a 16 storey hotel will create a canyon effect which will concentrate pollutants like nitrogen dioxide.

Councillor Chapman, the Greens Transport spokesperson, said:

“It is already known that Edinburgh has severe problems of pollution around the west end, the city centre and Leith Walk.  By 2010 the City Council will be fined under new Europe-wide rules if pollution remains at its current levels.  We need to be doing much more to cut the problem.

“Instead, it seems that the shape of new developments might take the city in the opposite direction: adding health risks to local residents and passers-by alike.

“That is why I want reassurance that the air pollution impacts will be formally assessed as this application is scrutinised.”

Notes to Editor

1. The motion by Green councillor, Steve Burgess to the full Council meeting of 20 September, read:

Air Pollution

That the Council:

1) Notes with concern that, according to Council monitoring data, air pollution in some areas of Edinburgh currently exceeds air quality

standards intended to protect human health and the environment.

2) Further notes that in 3 years time the city could be fined for breaking EU law on air pollution.

3) Therefore calls for an urgent report on:

(i) the impacts on human health;

(ii) the financial consequences for the city of failing to meet these air quality standards; and

(iii) an action plan to bring air pollution within safety limits by 2010.

2. For details of the development see www.tigerdevelopments.com.

3. Previous tests on the Torphichen Street area at Haymarket have shown that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide are more than double those deemed acceptable in European Air Quality standards which become mandatory in 2010.