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The air that we breathe

on Sat, 06/14/2014 - 19:09

With the public Inquiry into the Edinburgh Tram Project announced it is vital the effects of the project are covered by its remit.

There is a major, known defect in the very basic way the tram was conceived in OUR city.

The Tram causes air pollution increases.

The Council steadfastly refuse to acknowledge this.

They say a tram cannot cause pollution only traffic can do that,so the traffic is to blame and so we need to reduce traffic.

The tram creates so much traffic pollution that the Council know they have no way of reducing traffic sufficently to make even a dent in the rises they have created, by building it in the way they chose to build it.

We do not know why they chose to do this, far less why they chose to do absolutely nothing about it when they were given a second chance in 2011. We can only suspect in 2003 and 2004 they decided traffic created pollution was a little understood issue of marginal impact--and so decided it was a factor they could ignore, and build a cheaper tram system by doing that.

This is not the case in is an issue that is better and better understood with every passing year, and every new scientific report into the issue.

The 'Tram' does not create this pollution---the Council misrepresent our case by trying to insist we are 'blaming' the tram for pollution that really w should blame on traffic. This is a false argument and one of a number of this kind of straw man which they set up in order to try and muddy the waters.

We are blaming the council for building this tram, in this city, to such a flawed order to save money on the ticket price... that now, and into the future, we face pollution increases that no realistic traffic management scheme however severe or wide ranging can hope to reduce--to anywhere near the situation we would enjoy had the tram not been built TO THE  DEMANDS OF THE SPECIFIC FLAWED PLAN CHOSEN.

This document on our site shows that in 2003 the encyclopaedic report into an Edinburgh Tram project on which all subsequent reports and amended reports have been based, said pollution would be worse BECAUSE of the building of the tram to the plan proposed, by 2026, than if it had not been built.  It also said that the scale would be to make pollution worse for 65% of all households across the entire city, in the streets where we all live.

In effect this was the price in congestion, pollution and noise that the city would pay to have the small central area around Princes Street and George Street made better.

This trade off involved making that small central 'postcard area' of our city better, but almost everywhere else worse...or at least 65% of everywhere else worse. Click here to see the table in the STAG 2003 report that told the Council this would happen)

This fact has never been admitted in ANY Council publicity handout, message, press release, summary to councillors or anything else since then...and the desire to force through the project at any cost, which intensified as the financial and project management sides unravelled, has led to the suppression of this and other facts itself taking on the nature of an organised cover up.

Anyone who has read other material on our website will know we have repeatedly tried to work through ordinary channels and with councillors but despite this none have ever publicly admitted that this cover up existed, or continues.  Instead most councillors profess bafflement and seem incapable of understanding the problem as described. At various times they have been threatened and brow beaten by legal advice from the blighted and unlamented TIE Ltd Lawyers, threatened with being made personally responsible for multi million Pound losses if they even debate the project, and presented with selective executive summaries from the managers inside the council to whom they turned at various times, and read in various executive summaries.

They have taken "Lah-Lah-Lah--we can't hear you" politics to new levels, and so, as in this piece we continue to try show them, and anyone else interested, why the above is not OUR reality but the reality in THEIR reports, and the seriousness not made up by us, but a reality understood by vast numbers of people inside and outside national and local government.

Here below is an extract from the website of 'CleanAirLondon' showing we in Edinburgh are not the only ones with public representatives hopelessly ignorant of the real facts.

However as far as we know we are the only local authority where Council policy has been THE major factor in increasing air pollution in the city in the last decade.


"Over 100 MPs responded to a survey for CAL (CleanAirLondon) by Politics Home.  They were asked to ‘Rank the following risk factors in terms of the number of early deaths attributable to them in the UK annually: air pollution; alcoholism; obesity; road traffic accidents; and smoking (excluding passive smoking)’.  Responses showed:

  • MPs overall wrongly ranked the risks in descending order (most dangerous to least dangerous) as: smoking; obesity; alcoholism; road traffic accidents; and air pollution;
  • none of the political groupings ranked the risks correctly;
  • over two-thirds of Conservative MPs think air pollution (29,000 attributable deaths) has less impact than the lowest risk of road traffic accidents (1,901 deaths);
  • nearly twice the proportion of Labour MPs (18%) correctly identified air pollution as a top three public health risk compared to Conservative MPs (10%) (and 14% of Liberal Democrats MPs).

The new App is being launched to address widespread ignorance of public health risks.  It uses the innovative new Clean Air in Cities IndexTM (or Birkett IndexTM), developed by CAL, to report the health impact of long-term exposure to dangerous airborne particles (PM2.5) on the total population in a local area, region and England as a whole.

- See more at:

(NB sadly the app does not yet cover Scotland...  the latest Govt figures do show 205 deaths in Edinburgh in the last year were attributable to conditions created by air traffic here to see that report which is of course just under 4 a week or 1 every single day and half.  The last published council figures showed pollution UP 14% in the city even though traffic was DOWN 5%....  which translates to over 35 unnecessary deaths a year extrapolated from that here to see the government report that tells us this.)

We have NOTHING to do with Clean Air London. They are campaigning to publicise the scale and seriousness of air pollution in general, in London.

Our interest is getting our council to admit the the truth and face the facts about the serious problem with air pollution in the city that they have created and they have covered up.

Until the facts of the catastrophe are faced, solutions cannot even be conceived ....and the first step towards facing tram-facts and not tram-fictions is to dispel the miasma of cover up and misinformation embedded throughout the Council around the issue.

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