The link below connect to a story in the Scotsman 07-04-2012 about the ongoing Police investigation into alleged fraud within the City Council's Property Repair Service.
While not connected to the Tram Project it links to the general concerns over systemic governance failures within the Council that have allowed this situation, and the mismanagement of the tram project, to happen without repsonsioble oversight .
The good news is that Edinburgh Council are now releasing the data but ---- the bad news is they’re still not calculating it correctly.
This picture shows the plain truth of the way traffic drives down Great Stuart Street --- anyone who knows the street, or takes the time to go there and watch the traffic for 5 minutes will see this is the fact.
The picture shows in the close up circle a Passive Diffusion Tube measuring pollution, attached to the street sign pole shown by the small arrow.
It shows a line of vehicles moving down the centre of the carriageway—the traffic flow is always at the centre of the carriageway.
In 2010 the council were ‘correcting’ traffic pollution measurements using the application of a mathematical ‘correction factor’ in which the distance from the measuring device, the Passive Diffusion Tube, to the ‘traffic flow’ is a vital element.
This distance matters because it changes the result, the shorter it is the lower the ‘corrected’ final published record of pollutants.
The higher this figures the higher the level of pollution.
Below shows the various possibilities on this street.
The Council were using the (i) 37 centimetre distance to calculate the pollution in 2010 when they were releasing the figures to justify statements that pollution was very low.
The residents pointed out that no traffic ever went down the kerbside because of the on street parking.
Parked cars come and go of course and sometimes bays can be empty, but the traffic never swerves in and out of empty bays ever, and it always hangs right in order to take the corner right, round a small painted mini roundabout, at the bottom of the street in the easiest way.
After a long fight during which the council resisted for months they were forced to change from using distance (i) after the UK Government department responsible for Air Quality standards (DEFRA) issued newadvice to recognise the obvious, commonsense situation, that where parked cars occupy on-street spaces, then the carriageway should be assumed to run from the outside edge of the parked car – and not the kerb, distance (ii) above, 2.06 metres.
Although Edinburgh Council have now changed the way they apply correction factors to pollution readings, not just in Great Stuart Street but in a number of other streets across the city because of this. But they have never acknowledged publically that:
A) That they were not using the edge of parked car distance in 2010.
B) That the DEFRA advice change came after the residents group had contacted the UK government department with this photograph and this photograph helped prompt the change issued to all UK councils to remember to account for parked cars where these form a ‘virtual kerbside’.
They are now adding the 2.06 metres to the former calculation equation.
However as can be seen clearly above, the plain fact is that the traffic flow is in reality actually a further 1.8 metres (or so) distant from the Passive Diffusion tube—Distance (iii).
The council are not including this distance into their calculations.
It may well be happening because the person looking at a map and doing the calculation whether in the sub-contracted laboratory or the Council department, simply doesn’t know the facts of the traffic on the ground; they are pressing buttons on their calculator in a room, miles away.
That is excusable, but what is more difficult to excuse, is continuing to repeat the error.
This group make no secret of the fact that we believe more and more traffic is being displaced into residential streets and this is raising pollution levels inexorably towards, if not already beyond the EU statutory limits.
This is our agenda, it isn’t hidden in any way and it isn’t about minor issues of no importance.
The fact is these are questions with complicated aspects, but if the Council cannot accept they are making a mistake in such a clear and straightforward thing as this distance calculation, what hope can we have they are getting the other things right?
Or is it that an apparently stupid position being adopted because the alternative is worse?
Scotsman - Published on Friday 23 March 2012 12:00
THE latest phase of the city-centre tram project, which gets under way this weekend, will create almost continuous roadworks from Haymarket to Waverley.
Tram works at Shandwick Place and Haymarket are being extended to include West Maitland Street from 5am tomorrow, with a fresh set of traffic diversions. Most of Princes Street is already closed.
And today businesses in the West End said they were “fearful, worried, dejected and despondent” at the prospect of a year of disruption and declining trade. .....................................
From the Scotsman: Published on Wednesday 7 March 2012 14:33
A Labour MSP has hit out at the "secrecy" surrounding Edinburgh's troubled trams project as she called for details of the payout its former chief executive received to be made public.
Richard Jeffery stood down as the chief executive of Tie, the body responsible for managing delivery of the trams, last May. A legal agreement reached when he left the job prevented both him and Tie from discussing his employment - meaning details of the payout he received have not been made public.
However Kezia Dugdale, a Lothian MSP, said the trams project was not a "normal, run of the mill contract" as she called for the information to be made available.
The Labour MSP has been demanding a public inquiry into the project,
Published on Friday 2 March 2012 00:00
I HAVE just learned that bus fares are due to rise yet another 10p (your report, 1 March), while reading of Councillor Gordon MacKenzie’s confidence that trams and buses in combination will make a profit from day one. Given that passenger estimates for the trams have been revised down to about half the initial estimate Given that passenger estimates for the trams have been revised down to about half the initial estimate ..... ...................
When is a commitment to openness not a commitment to openness?
When it needs to be worked out later?
- The residents who have long objected to the traffic displacement catastrophe now being created by the flawed tram project were very encouraged after a meeting last summer in the Waverley Court HQ of the City of Edinburgh Council.
- Alongside Council CEO Sue Bruce and her chief confidante David Anderson were Marshall Poulton of Traffic, Dr Andrew Mackie of the Scientific services department and Vic Emery, of TIE, still at that time a meaningful part of the process.
- The meeting ended with residents leaving feeling greatly encouraged by a commitment to openness given freely across the table by the person right at the top---Chief Executive Sue Bruce.
So the recent FOI request that produced the email from which the extract above is taken came as more than a little shock. A ‘Commitment to openness’ either means what it says on the tin or else it surely means nothing at all.
Of course Mr Turley is a member of the council but he is also Head of Services for the Community whose role is defined on their website as:
Services for Communities department
We all want Edinburgh to be a great place tolive, work, visit, study and invest (sic). Services for Communities (SfC) plays a key role in this by providing services that help the city stay:
- Beautiful and well-maintained
- Moving efficiently
- well-informed and well-engaged
Many of these services are delivered through neighbourhood teams in response to the needs of their local residents. Since this way of working was introduced in 2006 there have been dramatic improvements in performance and customer satisfaction. (Underlining by us)
That heart warming mission statement doesn’t mention ‘splitting hairs’ or ‘trying to find a way round problems we don’t want to get drawn into’.
This email extract is just one of a whole raft in emails recently brought into the open under the FOI legislation, in which senior officers of the council discuss and debate the best way to try and shut up the local residents whose views they don’t agree with, many others can be seen at the website www.edinburghtramfacts.com
‘Openness’ simply has to mean what it says, and the irony of trying to find subtle ways to avoid it after proclaiming it must be lost on Mr Turley.
Sooner or later the penny has to drop that pushing on with the tram as presently envisaged is pushing on with pollution creation that is unnecessary. It does not have to be this way, changes to the tram can be made, and the Business case is destroyed anyway, the tram can be changed and something can be done..
But until Ms Bruce and her colleagues realise this, then ‘openness’ will remain an empty concept however many times they pledge their allegiance to it. Ends
CHARLOTTE SQUARE: LIES, DAMN LIES AND NO STATISTICS?
- We have recently had some tantalising glimpses of a scheme for a part of the city that, for once, justifies the use of the word iconic: Charlotte Square.
- A development funded in the main by a Russian businessman holds out the opportunity of converting the Square from a streetscape that is frankly a bit of a mess, into a location that will justify it’s worldwide reputation--- home to a world class hotel and office development and with the high quality paving and road surfacing, street furniture and all the rest to set the seal on it.
- So what’s not to like?
The answer is maybe nothing…but probably everything, because as usual, Edinburgh Council, appear so transfixed by a glittering vision that they are ignoring the basics of identifying not only what it means for the Council tax and Business tax rake off, or for the big businesses, rich tourists and visitors, who come and go --- but more importantly what it means for the people who actually live in the city and the safeguarding of whose welfare is the main reason for the existence of the council in the first place.
The traffic modelling ‘detail’ will, we are assured, be available when the TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) required by the development is advertised.
It doesn’t seem to occur to our Council that the Charlotte Square scheme already carries the same disquieting hallmarks that have been such a feature of the Tram project disaster.
By holding back the figures, yet publicising the plan, it inevitably means the plan will be presented as the ‘preferred option’ whether or not explicitly labelled as such, and the vehicles displaced as ‘an external’ or unfortunate side-effect of this ‘preferred’ plan.
Despite the risks of notincluding traffic displacement in the equation, and the potential consequential costs in the balance sheet for the city that including it may bring, the Council seem oblivious to the fact that this amounts to an admittance that the potential health and environmental risks are always seen by them as standing outside any project planning process in Edinburgh.
If the health impacts are so serious as to threaten a project by making it unfeasible in it’s initial form, then surely the rule ought to be ‘ so be it, we must go back to the drawing board.’
But in both this scheme as in the Tram Project health and environmental impacts have been treated as some sort of optional add-on to the main event, to be publicised in their favourable aspect, but suppressed in respect of the risks. It is precisely this failure that is continuing to cause the tram project to unwind.
Judging by recent media releases the Council themselves suddenly seem to be waking up to the undeniable effects of too much traffic in residential areas, but this awakening is extremely belated, and it has to be said, very partial.
Deteriorating health and life shortening impacts arising from planning decisions, are not considered add-ons in countries that the Scottish Government would like to be bracketed with—they are considered vital elements of the planning process that must sit alongside ‘economic development’ and ‘Transport’ from the very first moment.
This continued treatment of health and environmental effects as being unnecessary to the planning process is evidence of a planning process unfit for purpose in the 21st Century. It is one of the major points of failure in the whole Tram project debacle, as in the Charlotte Square scheme
The city cannot afford, either financially or reputationally, to blunder ever onward, treating valid environmental and health concerns as inconvenient truths to be ignored if they endanger this or that pet project. To trumpet concern in ‘The Southern Arc’ for a problem of traffic created pollution while at the same time pursuing plans such as the Charlotte Square scheme in which huge increases in traffic created pollution is totally ignored is both schizophrenic and dishonest.
An ‘Arc of confusion’ from CEC
- A recent report from the Council triggered by health statistic anomalies has raised concerns about traffic created pollution and its effects - This new found concern has been expressed in recent media articles as being of sufficient scale to demand consideration of extensive traffic controls.
- This all stands in harsh contrast to the attempts by the Council to suppress similar concerns that have been expressed for a number of years by residents in the ‘Northern Arc’. Concerns both as to the effects of council created traffic pollution increases in their own streets, but also across huge areas of the city---up to 139,500 households, or nearly 300,000 people –in a city with around 500,000 people.
- All cities, towns and countries in Europe are struggling with the explosion of scientific evidence pointing to the grave effects of this problem--- there are no easy answers or quick fixes.
- But only Edinburgh across the whole of the UK and even Europe is actively continuing to pursue a policy; the unchanged implementation of a Tram project that not only shifts huge exposures to pollution from short stay tourists and shoppers to permanently occupied homes –but serves to create more of this pollution as well.
The residents group recognise most journalists, councillors and MSPs do now know the basis of their concern. But of course nothing is being done, indeed only in the last few weeks have the true impacts of a development around Charlotte Square been casually revealed as meaning 400 extra vehicles an hour being displaced from the Square into the congested same streets.
This came to light almost casually and is apparently the result of the price demanded by developers to return an iconic square to global standards of appearance and utility. This outcome is desirable in many ways, but surely not at the price of the health of everyone living in streets unable to take this traffic, and further and further afield as the traffic seeks, as it will, ways around the congealing central routes..
Indeed the science on which these suddenly announced bold claims have been made and the implied link with traffic is actually extremely questionable, something even the report itself makes clear.
Section 2:11, page 70 on the pdf file version: “The differences in the admission rates for respiratory disease are less striking, and in the most recent time period the rate is similar to the Edinburgh average.”
On the following page (section 2:13): “….. the reasons for this [….relatively low health…] are unclear.”
If the CEC do reallyfeel there is the problem as they have stated caused by vehicle flows, even if based on what may be inconclusive healtheffects,; why are they knowingly creating massive rises in the same pollution by forcing traffic from mainly uninhabited historical main, commercially occupied, thoroughfares and forcing it down densely populated residential streets?
It seems almost pathologically schizophrenic to reveal a possible problem while at the same time denying it exists?
The deep conflicts and difficulties this causes is clear in the conflicts between the statements and actions in respect of the two ‘Arcs of confusion’.
The situation can be resolved and the tram built; just not ‘this tram’ in ‘this city’, without creating an enormous and potentially insoluble problem in the years ahead.
However, what is in in some ways a laughable state of confusion in the council but combined with potentially terrible consequences, illustrate clearly that nothing can really improve until there is a fundamental change in the underlying mindset of the Council to put the City as a whole before their tram project---and not the other way around.
KEY POLICY CHANGE SURROUNDED IN CONFUSION & MYSTERY
- Until December 2010 the Council were routinely revealing what are called ‘raw’ or ‘unvalidated’ figures for air quality levels, in terms of one ‘marker’ pollutant N02-Nitrogen Dioxide..
- That month, when DEFRA changed their guidelines on measuring air pollution to clarify an issue residents had identified was inevitably leading to under estimating of the pollutant by the Council, the release of the raw figures stopped.
- Once the change in policy became evident, by February 2011. when the non release was confirmed, the residents immediately began asking on what basis this change had occurred but were given no answer---until a few days ago.
- The answer as to how and why this decision was taken raises more questions than it answers although it shines a light on the lamentable state of public governance in the city.
There are clear internationally accepted guidelines on the need for public authorities, whether Governments, Local authorities or Councils, across the free world to treat the data they collect on behalf of the public as a public right—after all these organisations, far more than Global corporations, Banks or Big Business are meant to be paid for by the people and accountable to the people.
Levels of pollution occurring in the air where people live, and any rises liable to occur, are the exactly the sort of figures that are routinely released. This is both expected, often protected by legal safeguards and simply regarded in most authorities as customary practice
This was the case in Edinburgh until December 2010, but bthat changed early in 2011..
Faced with the sudden ending of the release of figures in 2011 residents immediately requested information on the meeting at which this policy change had been decided with a view to being able to understand the reasons for the change.
Before last week the only reason residents had ever been given for the change in policy and the sudden suppression of these figures had come in an informal meeting when a Council Officer told a residents group that ‘You would only misuse them.’
Following information last week from a number of senior officers of the council it is clear to residents that this conclusion was arrived at in a series of discussions, none of them formal and none of the minuted.
These informal discussions, and email exchanges, involved a host of senior figures across the CEC administration including Sue Bruce the Chief Executive, Mark Turley Director of Services for Communities, Dr Andrew Mackie, Head of the Scientific Services Department responsible for environmental monitoring, Alan Bowen, Andy Conway and others.
The only evidence of ‘misuse’, of what are after all simple figures, that has been given are just two newspaper articles; the responsibility for which does not rest with the residents of course, but the journalists and editors of those papers, who gave the City of Edinburgh ample chance to comment and put their own rebuttal arguments to the points raised.
The fact is that this idea that any ordinary citizens cannot be trusted with data is a bizarre idea in the 21st Century and in reality simply a fig leaf to try and stifle meaningful engagement and debate by preventing the oxygen of facts.
Indeed in 2010, when the release of figures was discontinued, the residents had pointed out a simple error, arising from an unthinking application of a mathematical formula that didn’t account for a real world fact---the presence of on street parking in Edinburgh --- that led to a change in the guidelines published on the web by DEFRA, the UK Government department responsible for air quality monitoring and it’s accuracy.
This discovery of the error would not have been possible had the figures been suppressed at that time.
Even more seriously, for the period that the data figures were not released, the figures were not only held back from the residents but also from the councillors themselves. During a vital period when councillors were attempting to carry out their duties as elected representatives in overseeing the management of the project ;by the same people who were preventing these figures from being released to them.
The image of a series of disconnected emails or phone calls, and ‘coffee machine’ meetings in corridors, all without minutes or public accessibility, nevertheless leading to the decision to cut off the flow of raw data, on the risible basis that residents were spreading alarm across the City, is at odds with the avalanche of assertions by Edinburgh Council testifying to their commitment to open government, consultation and public participation.
This rhetoric of openness, especially but not only, in connection with the Edinburgh Tram Project is belied by this reality.
These figures, suppressed for over a year during which vital decisions on the future of the Tram project, including those concerning traffic displacement, were made, are vital in illustrating the trend of figures that are amongst the most graphic illustrations of the threats and concerns of residents.
In the absence of formal environmental health impact studies, or noise studies, they are almost the only hard data by which the claims for the project can be measured against the emerging reality.
With the governance of the city under scrutiny by the prestigious United Nations Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee in Geneva, it may be that this process has prompted a u-turn on the suppression of this data and it’s sudden resumption of release. But this is impossible to say especially as the basis of the original decision to suppress the data early last year remains so shrouded in mystery due to the lack of any clear record, or minutes, to show responsibility and reasons.
TRAM WORKSHOP REPORT CONTROVERSY
- The ‘Tram Workshops’ process was proposed by Councillors as a way of bringing together in meaningful engagement the Council managers of the Edinburgh Traffic system and the residents unhappy at the effects of the Tram project on the City traffic flows.
- The ‘ Tram Workshops’ process which was voted for at the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) Transport, Infrastructure and Environment committee (TI&E) as a way to address repeated complaints from residents that they felt they ahd no way of making concerns to their own council.
- Having seen Councillors gagged by Legal advice that had the effect of silencing any real debate of issues, hopes were high in early 2011 that the Workshops Process would signal a new beginning.
- Sadly these hopes have not proved well founded.
People who have followed the ongoing saga of the ‘Trams project’ will understand that whatever the shortcomings of the Tram project itself, it is not that project that is the actual subject of worry and concern of residents.
The real problem is that the effects of the tram remain unrecognised to this day, sidelined under the label of ‘wider issues’ in the very beginning, and never acknowledged openly by successive City administrations since then.
In the case of the Tram Project, although a far smaller length of track is now being built at a far higher total cost, even with only 60% of the line the pollution related bad effects could be over 100% those predicted in the Council’s own initial report in 2003.
The residents continue to believe that their own neighbourhood is the canary in the mine for up to 60% of the residential areas of the city faced with rising traffic volumes, bringing the air pollution to their doorsteps that creates the respiratory conditions, strokes and cardiac problems -This is why the demand by Councillors that their officers set up the Workshops process to provide meaningful engagement was welcomed by residents.
However problems arose from the beginning and promises of support, secretarial services (none of the residents have any resources other than their own personal time and equipment) and access to documents, evaporated.
Alongside the absence of real support Key council officers, like Andy Conway and Alan Bowen, have progressively distanced themselves from the process and increasingly ignored it.
Despite the increasing lack of meaningful engagement residents made a decision to try and make it work as a forum in which the issues could be clarified and communicated to the public, rather than allow it to collapse. For over a number of people devoted significant amounts of time and effort in trying to create something meaningful despite the corporate apathy and even hostility to the process, of the CEC on occasions.
However residents were shocked in November last year when a meeting organised by Andy Conway, an officer of the council, as the formal handover of their report at the Business Centre in the City Chambers went ahead with no council officers at all participating or even attending.
This state of affairs was compounded last week when the residents were handed the document purporting to be a report based ontheir work over the preceding year.
This document has been produced withoutany input from, or knowledge of, the same residents who worked for over a year in their spare time, to try and investigate potential remedies for the effects now being seen across the City in terms of increasing traffic pollution and more congestion in residential streets and areas.
The Director of Services for Communities Mark Turley, the author of the report was not present to hand it over, just as his colleagues have been absent for most of the evenings during which the work was being done. Because of this he was unable to hear for himself the immediate and vociferous complaints from members of the workshops presented with the document for the first time.
Every ordinary member of the workshops who gave many evenings up to try and make something of the process wishes to disassociate themselves completely from what they see as little more than a self serving restatement of the Council beaurocracy’s positionbefore the process began.
Update on the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee hearing last week
The resident’s group feel it went very well for them in terms of the attention paid to the arguments by the committee.
An initial attempt by the UK government Barrister to portray the issue as a small one affecting a very small number of people, and therefore out-with the remit of the committee was not accepted.
Then, following a full day’s hearing, the committee have requested more information by mid-January deadline (later amended to late March) , in order to arrive at a judgement on the issue.
The role and function of the Aarhus Convention Compliance committee and their interest in the ‘Tram Project’ has been the subject of some questions to me.
Below is a FAQ style summary of the questions I have been asked, I hope it helps:
What is the Aarhus Convention of the United Nation’s UNECE?
Best I can do is say they have been set up to safeguard Democratic process in signatory countries (of which the UK is one) from being misused, and ensure ordinary people have access to Justice especially in Environmental issues, and because justice depends on information, that ordinary people have access to information held by organisations, such as council’s or governments For more information http://www.unece.org/env/pp/introduction.html
Why are they interested in the Edinburgh Tram?
The short answer is that they aren’t particularly interested in the tram project itself. They are interested in the apparent ‘oversights’ that may mean many tens of thousands (possibly 139,500 households according to the council’s original prediction for the whole project) of households will experience more traffic using the streets in which they live, which means more noise, danger, possible building damage AND pollution that is known to be very harmful to health.
They are interested in the fact that this figure, never specifically publicised by the council, and many other pieces of information of that type, would have been able to be examined at a Public Inquiry which ought to have happened.
Indeed so high is this figure that most people when told it simply refuse to believe it can be true – that would not have happened if the full reasons for it had been examined at a Public Inquiry---but one never took place.
So every planning row that ever starts up in Edinburgh will end up at the United Nations- that can’t be right?
This is not a supreme court for run-of-the-mill planning rows. The Aarhus Convention Compliance committee is only interested in rows where particularly egregious breaches of the rights to justice, and the free access to information that is part of supplying justice, have taken place within signatory countries.
Their concern is that the people of Edinburgh were not given the chance to correctly judge all impacts of the tram on their city, lives or health, because no Public Inquiry took place.
That this committee has spent months reading the submissions before even granting a hearing shows the seriousness of the prima facie case. Of course they have not yet passed judgement and we have to weait and see what that will be.
Why is DEFRA represented and not Edinburgh City Council ?
The Convention is a ‘Government level’ document and so the Compliance committee call national governments to account even where the actual breach, or alleged breach, is by a Regional Council, City Council or Town council.
DEFRA are the relevant department of the UK Government and so they have to respond to this allegation of a breach of proper process which if proven would have been committed by the City of Edinburgh Council.
It is the UK Government would have to address the implications of any ruling that goes against them, if that is the outcome. But such a ruling would obviously have serious and wide-ranging repercussions within Scotland, and Edinburgh, as well.
In effect the UK Government and DEFRA obviously have to be briefed by Edinburgh Council as to their (The Council’s) opinion and version of the facts of the matter as although DEFRA have to take responsibility, they obviously didn’t play a big part in the actual events in the early part of this century and subsequently.
What do the resident’s want from this?
First of all we must await the judgement, and after that the reaction of the UK government, the Scottish government, Transport Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council of course
The situation is clearly extremely complex and isn’t one that allows of a simple solution.
But if nothing else results then an acceptance by Edinburgh Council that the issue is not one of ‘a few streets’ and that there have been regrettable oversights in information provision, would be a start.
The resident’s are not anti-tram, but anti THIS tram that has triggered these problems, they do not want to see ‘no trams’ in Edinburgh to say that is to misrepresent their views.
We hope those points above help clarify what is a very complex situation, that comprises a series of linked issues triggered by the way the Edinburgh Tram project was managed, but which is not only about those individual decisions, omissions and managerial mistakes with the Tram process.
The real substance of the hearing are malformations of the process, that go to the heart that do not relate solely to the resident’s about denial of justice, and denial of the facts and data to assess the extent of the problems they may experience.
Recent publicity about shredded documents in the Council and the experience of MSP Kezia Dugdale after receiving documents under a Freedom of Information Act also publicised recently, in which she received documents in which all the information within them had been almost totally blanked out, rendering them worthless, show that this suppression or denial of basic factual information isn’t an issue that applies only to the Resident’s group who brought the case to Geneva..
This present case before the Aarhus Convention compliance committee at the UN European headquarters in Geneva isn’t a raking over of old decisions that cannot now realistically be changed but about attempting to rectify things which right now can still be rectified to a degree.
Rather than letting things simply take their course as they have done for the last few years when the outcome could include effects now being predicted of the utmost seriousness.
Pictures from Geneva can be downloaded from this ImageLink and are royalty free when used in connection with this story
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The website of the Aarhus Convention can be found at: http://www.unece.org/env/pp/introduction.html
Two Edinburgh Residents are going to the United Nations’ Palais des Nations Building in Geneva this week to address the UN’s Aarhus Convention committee.
The reason for their invitation is that the committee feel there is a Prima Facie case to believe Edinburgh Council may have broken their own rules for ensuring proper Public consultation and involvement, over the Tram scheme.
- The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee of the United Nations have granted an ordinary Edinburgh Resident, Alistair Macintosh, a hearing over his concerns that the proper democratic process of consultation was set aside by the Council.
- The committee are used to hearing cases involving expensive and high powered teams of lawyers in cases involving national governments. But they do also allow ordinary citizens to present a case—and in this case have been persuaded there is a prima facie case justifying a hearing in person.
All journalists following this case are well aware that the Residents opposition to the Tram project is far from a case of opposition to Trams themselves.
The residents fear the flaws in the Tram process mean clear, present and real dangers to health, building damage, degradation to the living environment, noise pollution and increased danger of accidents will arise in many hundreds of residential streets as the blocking nature of the Tram project on traffic flows across the City becomes clear.
They believe that had proper public consultation as laid down been carried out in the beginning this state of affairs could have been avoided and a tram project designed that would be the Tram the City needs, and not the Tram the Council bureaucracy wanted in 2003 and has felt unable to compromise on since then..
This failure to hold a proper Public consultation is at the root of both the failures of the project and the sense of grievance amongst the residents. The Aarhus Convention Committee holds a remit to investigate such failures of democratic process in signatory countries.
Alistair Macintosh, a former Research Engineer with the M.o.D now retired, has exhausted the avenues within Scotland to have his case heard and has spent many months in contact with the Aarhus Convention Committee seeking to convince them that this denial of natural justice, especially in regards to environmental matters, is a just and suitable subject for them to consider.
- That this prestigious committee is now prepared to devote a day to this case is a tremendous achievement by Alistair who has pursued this avenue of redress completely on his own for many months.
He is being accompanied to Geneva by Dr Ashley Lloyd another of the resident’s group continuing to try and bring their concerns to the wider Edinburgh public.
Ashley and Alistair have no funding, though the group is has been mandated by a large group of West End residents. it is itself is very small, and made up of ordinary people, not affiliated to any political party or sponsored in any way at all, and the trip is being paid for by the pair themselves initially (hopefully there are UN rules and provisions for legitimate and receipt supported expenses that may eventually cover the cost). So instead of Business Class and 5 star hotels they are flying Budget airline on Wednesday and staying in an ordinary hotel that night, intending to walk briskly to the Palais des Nations the following morning.
The hearing begins at 10.30am on Thursday and is planned to last all day.
There are a set of pictures that can be downloaded directly from this link and are royalty-free when used in connection with this story NB the pictures of Alistair and Ashley are recent the 4 views of Shandwick Place (now empty) and Great Stuart Street/Ainslie Place (now congested) are file images, but representative of the situation now..
1) To see the Images or Videos just click the Imageor the code-line below, then either use ‘select’ to download only those you want OR use ‘select all’ to download all images with one click
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FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The website of the Aarhus Convention with an explanation of the remit of the Committee, and the reasons for it’s existence, case studies etc can be found at: http://www.unece.org/env/pp/introduction.html
(To see the images of redaction click here to link to the pdf copy of this on our site)
No truth - and anything but the truth!
- As many of you know Edinburgh residents worried about pollution levels directly caused by the misconceived tram project have been battling for months to force the council to reveal the truth.
- They were not surprised by the heavily redacted documents offered to MSP Kezia Dugdale recently in a travesty of a ‘Freedom’ of Information response concerning aspects of the governance of the Tram Project.
In July last year the Edinburgh residents group were themselves welcoming the chance to make a presentation to councillors responsible for the troubled City tram scheme.
Their local councillors, Joanna Mowat and Charles Dundas worked to prepare a motion to be voted on by the committee, which was to follow a presentation to the committee which comprehensively outlined their concerns and the scientific bases for them.
These issues had been covered up and shunted off under a convenient heading of ‘wider issues’ to hide a whole range of ‘inconvenient’ truths about the tram project. This allowed them to be ignored completely both by the now discredited management companytie and also the City Council itself.
REDACTION—2011 Freedom of Information style (left) and 2010 style in the Motion to the City of Edinburgh Council TI&E Committee (right)
This motion (below)was altered at the last minute, not only redacted but also watered down, and with a completely foreign 3rdparagraph inserted by a Director of tie, and Convenor of the Council committee concerned with Tram oversight Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, replacing the original words.
(original removed paragraphs & words are shown in grey below ------- the paragraph inserted in place of the original 3rd paragraph, by the Convenor of the TI&E committee is shown in bold black type).)
The changed motion removes any references to monitoring of air quality with/without increased levels of traffic and completely changes the meaning.
Spokesman for the group, Dr Ashley Lloyd, says: “I was surprised when the amended motion was sent back to us in an email over the weekend immediately before the meeting last July.”
“I was extremely disappointed personally, and as a group we did consider pulling out---but felt that it was important to try to put the case about pollution to the Committee in a meaningful way.”
“But all attempts to do this were stifled and effectively ruled out of order.”
“From addressing a potential city wide issue the motion was reduced to talking only about re-opening, temporarily, one single short stretch of road, and this at great trouble and expense for a temporary period only”
Allan Alstead, another concerned residentsaid: “I remember how disappointed and shocked we all were to find the motion changed at the very last moment.”
“We were still trying to find out exactly why the changes had been made right up until the convenor called it to order; we hadn’t time to work out what it meant, or indeed what to do for the best.”
“It is quite clear that the council even then obviously feared the monitoring of pollution and so all references to it, and its associated effect of noise, were removed. This cover up continues almost 18 months later.”
“In short the debate was rigged and democracy short changed, just as it has been for Kezia Dugdale 18 months later.”
“The chaos inside the council is shown by recent noises hinting they may now be about to consider permanent relaxation of the previous 100% traffic prohibition on Shandwick Place— however it is typical that this is the first time they have ever officially admitted that there was to be a ban on all general traffic in the first place.”
“A city of the stature and history of Edinburgh simply cannot continue to conduct its democratic processes by means of half truths, untruths and leaks of information that ought to be in the Public Domain in the first place.”
- This is the letter from Transport Scotland that those unable to see beyond St Andrews Square are relying upon to change the decision to safeguard the City’s financial well being.
- Indeed the letter begs one question above all, why start now -- after 90% of the money has already gone?
- As ever in this sorry saga does something else lie behind this letter being sent at this time?
Below is the text of the letter written just a couple of days before the expiry of the deadline for the last few percentage points of the original £500M pledged to the Edinburgh Tram project by John Swinney.
There are puzzling and confusing points and it repays careful reading.
Trams funding letter to City of Edinburgh Council
30 August 2011
The following text was issued as a letter from Transport Scotland Director Ainslie McLaughlin to City of Edinburgh Council Chief Executive Sue Bruce this morning.
Dear Ms Bruce,
GRANT OFFER TO CITY OF EDINBURGH COUNCIL FOR CONSTRUCTION OF PHASE 1 OF THE EDINBURGH TRAM NETWORK
I refer to my previous letter of 30 March 2011 intimating that the above grant agreement between The Scottish Ministers and The City of Edinburgh Council would expire on 31 March 2011 and as such, Ministers’ obligations to make payments in support of the tram project would cease from that date.
Notwithstanding that, Ministers agreed on an interim basis to continue to make payments under the terms of the existing grant agreement to support the Council while negotiations were ongoing with the Bilfinger Berger, Siemens and CAF Consortium toward the resolution of the contractual dispute which would take the tram to St Andrew’s Square. It was made clear that this was an interim arrangement which was entirely at Ministers’ discretion and which could be withdrawn at any time and would not extend beyond 31 August 2011.
In light of the Council’s decision on 25 August 2011 to take the tram only to Haymarket, Ministers are now of the view that this represents a fundamental change to the basis on which the Scottish Government originally agreed to contribute up to £500 million. It will result in the tram requiring a significant ongoing public subsidy, which is damaging in public expenditure terms. In these circumstances, I have to advise you that Ministers are not prepared to make any further payments to the project and will not extend the existing grant arrangements beyond 31 August 2011.
If the Council wishes to make further proposals that are consistent with the basis of the original agreement given by Ministers, these will be considered on their merits.
Ashley Lloyd, a prominent campaigner for serious pollution issues to be addressed before the project proceeds as planned, after reading this:
“The oddest point seems to be that the £500M was always predicated upon the whole of the original plan being completed, but now that only Haymarket has been chosen this is judged to be a ‘fundamental change’ resulting in the sudden axing of all further payments.”
“However in May, when the options were presented in a press conference ahead of being released to the Councillors, they were a) Cancellation, b) Haymarket and c) St Andrews Square, all of which are ‘fundamental changes’ to the original basis of the grant, so why wasn’t this letter sent weeks months earlier than this.
“Beneath the rhetoric the letter appears to be saying they don’t like the Haymarket option because it requires a significant ongoing public subsidy—but isn’t committing to a minimum of £15M a year in money lending charges (and very possibly in excess of £20M a year) for the St Andrews Square project not a significant and ongoing public subsidy for this option, and if it is not, then what is it?”
“So why mention only the Haymarket option in this letter would it not be prudent for Transport Scotland to mention the other two options, and point out St Andrews Square also fails their test?”
“Which then would leave the Capital City of the Country they govern where, exactly?”
John Carson, a long standing and well known critic of the project with extensive experience in managing large infrastructure projects :
“This is just another layer of lunatic and unnecessary complication in a project that was just showing some signs of finally turning away from chaos and towards some sort of sanity’
“I have to say I feel great sympathy for many councillors trying to get their heads around just what is going on, while some are would-be career politicians, a great many are decent people wanting to do their best for the city and it’s people, many of whom are their neighbours.”
“Obviously those political figures within the council closely connected to the project are in a different category and in particular Cllr Jenny Dawe and Cllr Gordon Mackenzie have been at the heart of it and close to many of the decisions that have led us to the brink of disaster.”
“But the most baffling aspect has been the stance of senior paid employees, what used to be called Public Servants and civil servants, who are meant to non-political.”
“However the advice being given to the councillors indicates that it has been anything but impartial and measured, we have seen preferred options presented with figures massaged downwards and other options presented in the worst possible light.”
“The last report itself mentioned St Andrews Square producing a £2M Contribution…not profit, because even here in their own biased report nobody could quite bring themselves to use the word profit.”
“Because they knew that it cannot ever be considered a profit when to ‘make’ this amount one has to borrow such a huge sum that the repayments will cost over £20M a year, at the very lowest they would be over £15M every year---without counting any repayment of the loan, itself certain to be £230M, and again, liable to be far, far in excess of that.”
“For this ‘contribution’ to repay the loan would then take 115 years, and through that time a ‘subsidy ‘ of initially over £20M would be needed, only falling as the capital itself was reduced by this subsidy.”
“These things are obvious, but for councillors to see a letter such as the above in which no mention is made of this, then who can blame them for becoming shell shocked and confused.”
“The Labour and Tories have done the city a colossal favour in the teeth of entrenched opposition from the senior civil servants and with the vote of the 25th took a big step in bringing them to heel, and a proper understanding of their duties and responsibilities.”
“ I trust Alex Salmond, with his highly developed political understanding will recognise the dangers of allowing his civil servants in the national government to effectively declare war on their own capital city, without a clear instruction from the duly elected political representatives.”
“Last week Edinburgh tottered on the edge of a real abyss having sleep walked towards it on a path of muddled, confused and partial promptings disguised as advice from the Civil servants, it only pulled back thanks to seem real political courage on behalf of the Conservatives and Labour who were prepared to bury their own century long differences in the face of the implications.”
“The last thing we need now is another civil servant casually writing off a letter to his opposite number in the city designed to allow her to give the City the push in the back that will send it toppling into the darkness.”
(To see the plans that may not display here, link to the pdf vbersion of this news release)
- Should it matter if the facts get in the way of a good soundbite any more?
- The attached map shows the facts— it has been sent to Cllr Gordon Mackenzie, Convenor of the Transport, Infrastructure and Environment committee and Director of tie.
- Cllr. Gordon Mackenzie either does not know what the facts are about the Tram Project in which he has been a pivotal figure for three years ….or he does know,
- Which is it? – but either way it doesn’t look good.
Last week in the aftermath of a long overdue outbreak of common sense and sanity over the Tram project Cllr Mackenzie saw fit to comment that Shandwick Place would still not be returned to use for traffic because it would be required to be used to build a large ‘turn back facility’.
This was significant because a group of concerned residents, which has been growing constantly over the last year, have shown how reopening Shandwick Place is crucial to avoiding the increases in traffic in residential streets and bringing increases in pollution from commercial streets to those same residential streets.
It was also wrongbecause the plans of the project have always shown a turn back facility built in Haymarket and not in Shandwick Place, needed because the original plans envisaged the need to stop trams before Princes Street when the set piece celebrations and festivals meant that street would be closed.
Alistair Laing: a retired civil engineer who has worked on civil engineering projects around the world:“Cllr Mackenzie stated categorically that even if Haymarket is now the preferred option it would not mean the re-opening of the street to traffic because it would be needed for a turn back facility for the trams, to allow them to return to the airport along the line of the track.”
“This is simply wrong; there is a turn back facility already in the plans at the Haymarket section.”
“This is there because it was always envisaged that for festivals and fireworks Princes Street could be closed off and the trams would need to be sent on the return run from Haymarket.”
“He needs to give more explanation why he said what he did say about Shandwick Place.”
“If Cllr Mackenzie did know it was in the plans, then why did he say what he did?”
“If Cllr Mackenzie didn’t know it was in the plans, this seems incomprehensible given he has been the senior figure on the council involved in the project, and a full member of the Board of Directors of tie, until its recent demise, the company controlling the scheme.”
Allan Alstead, a prominent member of the group concerned about the cavalier attitude to congestion, pollution, and noise transferred to residential streets across Edinburgh: “ It may be excusable that Cllr Mackenzie’s remark slipped past many of the public and many in the media, I was not aware that a turn back facility had been designed into the project.”
“However Alistair Laing, John Carson and Derek Shepherd are three people who have spent their working lives on these sorts of projects and because of that have shown a close interest in the project, each of them were instantly aware that turn backwas already in the plans.”
“They were astonished that the single most important person on the Council side, responsible for reporting to the elected chamber, seemed to be totally unaware of this.”
“Given that he also is a full member of the Board of Directors of tie, where the need for a facility to take account of both planned and emergency closures of Princes Street must have been a major item of business this ignorance appears even more incredible.”
“Either he doesn’t know what he is talking about, in which case he should not be doing the job he is doing, either on behalf of the City or the now defunct tie, and resign.”
“Or he does know what he is talking about, and knew that turn back exists, and therefore needs to explain clearly why he said what he did, at the time that he said it, because without a good explanation the implications don’t bear thinking about.”
The proposed turn back siding already included in the plans.
This confirms it IS at Haymarket
The whole plan, from which the details above have been extracted.
- A moment of Political commonsense and suddenly the clouds are clearing over Edinburgh.
- Residents fighting a long battle over pollution and health fears welcome the decision to halt the scheme at Haymarket.
The sterile stalemate and politicking inside Edinburgh City Council which has allowed the Tram Project to descend into chaos has been broken by an unprecedented Labour/Tory Alliance.
In the political vacuum of the last few years a succession of executives and managers have struggled in vain to return some order to the flawed project.
But the chaotic and ungovernable management structure has proved impossible to control and the project was threatening the financial stability of the whole city as the administration, blinkered and unguided, pressed forward with a hopelessly misconceived plan.
Amongst the ramifications and changed realities of the new situation, not the least significant is that by joining forces, the Tories and Labour have changed the Tram from a potential air pollution and health disaster into a properly Green alternative for the first time in the project’s history.
This long overdue manifestation of common sense is welcomed by members of the residents group who have spent over two years now, trying to bring the prospect of the health dangers, as well as the financial ones, to the notice of the managers, councillors and wider public.
Although it’s clear that the commonsense outbreak hasn’t reached everyone as Council Leader Jenny Dawe, showed with her comments immediately after the vote:
The clearly shocked Lib-Dem, so closely identified with the Tram project opined:” The decision to progress to St Andrews Square has fallen, threatening the city’s future financial vibrancy.”
“I am really angry that Labour and Tory Councillors have rejected the professional advice of our Chief Executive and officers and some of the most highly regarded legal, technical, financial and engineering experts in the country.”
In days to come, when her disappointment subsides, she may reflect that in a world turned upside down, her views reveal just how far out of step with the public the administration she leads has fallen.
Throughout the unravelling of this project the administration and many of it’s officers have failed to face up to the facts, the principle one being that this has been such a fundamentally misconceived project it has damaged or destroyed the careers, and reputations, of everyone who has come into contact with it, including even the entire company set up in the heady early days to manage it all.
In the last few weeks the ability of the administration to produce credible figures has disintegrated under the pressures of the unmanageable project, to the extent that on the same day Ms Dawe was making the above remarks it was revealed that £19 Million had been lost inside the budget through ‘double counting.’
That £19M lost in the wash yesterday was merely the latest in an unbelievable series of financial blunders, mistakes and shady calculations that destroyed the project long before yesterday’s (Thursday 25th August) vote -- and stands as 19 Million individual pieces of evidence to show just how far out of touch with reality the post-vote comments of the Leader show her to be.
Dr Ashley Lloyd, Chairman of the workshops set up by the Council and a scientist with long standing deep misgivings over the pollution dangers inherent in the flawed project planning: "I welcome this decision as a step in the right direction for Edinburgh, stopping at Haymarket provides a compromise that is understandably attractive.”
“But we need to think again about this project - not lock in a design based on the longest, widest and heaviest tram in the world that we know is incompatible with a fully integrated and green transport system for Edinburgh."
"Stopping at Haymarket it has a weak financial case but is far better
than taking on the debt required to get to York Place and it will improve air quality in Edinburgh, not, as the previously preferred option of York Place, make it worse.”
"I have looked very closely at this project for well over two years, in terms of its environmental impact and I am pleased that the Council has decided not to bring the longest, heaviest and
widest tram in the world on to the narrow streets of Edinburgh where it is impossible to integrate it with other transport.”
“ I also hope that this marks the long overdue beginning of a more open phase in consultation between the Council and the people of Edinburgh, and if so, that the Council will now release figures about
the impact of the Tram traffic diversions on noise and air pollution that it is currently being withheld."
Alistair Laing, a former respect civil engineer, and member of group fighting to expose the flaws within the project fro over 2 years: “This gives time for a full investigation of this flawed project, with flawed advice and estimates from the Waverley Court Executive that very nearly forced the City of Edinburgh into bankruptcy.”
“As a result of this afternoons vote for Amendment 1 to complete the line from Edinburgh Airport to Haymarket the Council will require to borrow £0m and pay £0m in interest on the £0m loan every year for 30 years.”
- The Tram report to Councillors— yet another deplorable milestone in a broken political process.
- Fiddled figures in the business case with vital pollution figures still buried
The Tram report to councillors is yet another insult to the memory of impartial public service in Edinburgh.
The production of a supposed Benefit Cost Ratio of 1:2.20--- was achieved by pretending all the money spent to date doesn’t count. This is a transparent attempt to patronise and mislead councillors facing a very difficult decision.
The inflation of the figure for the Haymarket option was grotesque and collapsed before the ink was dry on the document after the Contractor said they felt this figure was high.
For the remnants of tie and the Edinburgh managers now running the project to be told by the contractor, a former tie executive famously described as “delinquent” that they are wasting over £100M of public money and the job can be done for that much less marks a new low in what has turned from grim farce into a tragedy for the City.
However the worst example of misinformation is the acknowledgement, at long last, that air quality will get worse for many areas of the city, and especially in residential areas. Yet there is no costing for this pollution, nor any plan to deal with it.
For the benefit of any councillors, below are the relevant paragraph quotes from the report-with the real facts of the matter below.
6.4 The STAG report acknowledged that within this overall net improvement there would be areas where air quality would deteriorate as a result of the displacement of traffic from the tram routes.
THE REAL 6.4: The overall net improvement figure is disputed…but even so the council have to acknowledge many tens of thousands of households will suffer worse air quality—fewer than in their 2003 report only because the later STAG report already assumed less tram line running on roads….thanks to the already emerging failure of the original grandiose plans. It’s is only because of the forced reduction of the tram line’s length that these figures are slightly less serious.
But if “only” 88,000 households are exposed to worse air pollution, is that morally responsible?
6.5 The Council remains committed to ensuring that any such air quality issues are properly monitored and addressed.
THE REAL 6.5: This is arguable when the facts are known. The council were first alerted to this issue in 2009 and fought throughout 2009 and 2010 to avoid measuring properly in order to continue burying the problem. In November 2010 the councillors told the council to begin monitoring as a matter of urgency---nothing was done until this month, (June 2011) and only after further meetings and pressure left them no option. The council have been anything but committed to ensuring proper monitoring and addressing of issues.
6.6 As a result of concerns expressed by residents of the Moray Feu, following the temporary diversion of traffic during the MUDFA utility works, additional air quality monitoring has been carried out on Great Stuart Street since July 2009 and, following the Tram Sub Committee meeting of 28 February 2011, additional air quality checks have been introduced in this area to include monitoring on building facades and at basement level.
THE REAL 6.6: This paragraph is another series of half truths and untruths. The diversion of traffic is not temporary; it was started under the guise of a ‘temporary’ traffic order but last year the council revealed that the diversions were always intended to be permanent and the traffic diversions could under no circumstances be changed. The figures since July 2009 to December 2010 were all inaccurate thanks to the Council misinterpreting the process of applying correction numbers to raw data.
The additional air quality monitoring they have done is meaningless. Now, unbelievably, the Council say they will not correctly apply the DEFRA formula, even though their published calculations contain an error..
The figures since December 2010 have been suppressed and are being prevented from release into the Public domain.
The ‘additional’ air quality checks at façade and basement level in residential areas were only just begun this month, and then only because of extraordinary pressure from Edinburgh residents.
6.7 The data from the existing and additional air quality monitoring levels in this neighbourhoodwill become available in the first quarter of 2012.
THE REAL 6.7 This is a desperate attempt to push crucial information beyond the eventual date of a vital vote…this makes a mockery of the stated commitment to openness, proper monitoring and and addressing the issues.
All air quality data is required to run through a 12 month period before final assessment to allow the air pressure, weather traffic and other conditions to be fairly experienced. The residentsknow this and accept fully the scientific reasons for it.
But this should not be used as a reason to withhold themonthly figures as these can still give a valuable handle on any emerging problem.
The council continue to release figures for other streets in the City, these other streets are not yet experiencing the pollution increases now occurring in the very first streets to be subjected to the new tram traffic flows, although should the tram be built out from Haymarket they will , as more and more streets being to see similar, or perhaps even higher, rises in traffic flows.
It is a grim irony that these problems are so clearly being revealed even though the tram itself remains years away from ever running under any circumstance. Perhaps, however, on the contrary it is especially fortunate in displaying the previously ignored effects and highlighting them while there is still time to do something about it.
- The Report therefore notes the problem in the first formal recognition of things first revealed to them in early 2009 by Dr Ashley Lloyd and other residents.
- However it does nothing at all to properly address the problem, after the Council persisted for many months in attempting to rubbish Dr Lloyd and refused to look at his work and the results produced, and this report while being a step forward is. In reality, just another desperate attempt to kick the problem into long grass---far into the future.
Given the seriousness of the deaths that are now clearly attributable to Air pollution created by traffic in every scientific paper published, it has always been disgraceful that, although knowing of the creation of pollution directly resulting from the way the Tram was planned to run, the Councillors have been misled repeatedly by reports such as this one, apparently taking the issue on board….in reality burying it.
- Councillors voting on the project cannot however use ignorance if in years to come ill health and even deaths result from these increases in traffic pollution that WOULD NOT OCCUR IF THE TRAM WERE NOT BUILT. It is surely impossible to accept that traffic created pollution is created by traffic and yet while working hard to move traffic into residential streets try and say that more traffic somehow won’r create more pollution.
There is no equivalence or balance between improvements in Air Quality in Princes Street, for example, where tourists, shoppers and visitors are experiencing vastly improved air quality. But as the scientific data shows (or would do were the Council releasing it) these improvements are being bought at too high a price given the drastic increases in streets where people live.
AS well as the increased concentrations in the air around homes is the length of time people are exposed. Visitors and tourists shopping for a few hours a week or visiting attractions are obviously exposed for less time, before they leave the City centre, or fly back to their own homes in other cities.
Against this the tens and indeed hundreds of thousands of residents forced to endure higher air pollution are also exposed for enormously longer periods of course, after all they have to live in the houses in the streets down which all the traffic is now flowing.
The story is of displaced traffic producing more pollution per vehicle, irrespective of any increase or decrease in the number of vehicles city, to which the people exposed are typically exposed for far longer periods of time.
Finally the peoplemost likely to be exposed for the very longest periods are the most vulnerable as older and elderly people, and very young babies and infants, with their parent(s), spend the longest amounts of time in and near the family home.
This has to be an unthinkable proposition and a true indication of the catastrophic flaws in the original plan for this transportation project for a city wishing to be ranked amongst the world’s best and greenest.
Leaving aside moral or ethical issues, there is no amount in the project balance sheet for contingent liabilities such as litigation costs, compensation costs, further mitigation of the issue, and the EU fines that will be triggered if limits are exceeded.
That doesn’t mean that for city councillors these liabilities do not exist.
It means that at present they are ‘off balance sheet’ for the project costings, and unrecognised in the council’s own future coast projections.
If the report is to reflect this then these costs need to recognised and included as the direct consequence of the project that they really are and many tens of millions more needs to be added to the costs for St Andrews Square.
If the tram were topause at Haymarket now in order that a prudent re-assessment of all the contingencies previously ignored or miscalculated by the oldtie regime be made there is no need for any of these contingent liabilities to be included in the balance sheet. If the tram stops at Haymarket NO INCREASE IN POLLUTION whatsoever will be seen anywhere in the City and not one single resident’s health will suffer needlessly because of the Tram.
- Properly corrected figures show the first ‘post-tram’ traffic diversions have sent pollution towards or even above EU limits
- Is Edinburgh the only council in the UK or even Europe actively trying to increase pollution levels??
The Council were releasing monthly figures all through 2010 until a DEFRA ruling demolished the basis of these.
Since then (December last year) no figures have been released despite the increasingly high profile at last being given to traffic created air pollution levels and the possible of EU fines running into the tens of millions.
The picture below shows the issue, the table accompanying illustrate the problem.
The little monitor strapped to the pole (magnified in the circle) measures the real particles diffusing through the air---Edinburgh Council’s figures were worked out as if the traffic drives close to the kerb … position a).
DEFRA, after approaches from Edinburgh residents, changed their advice to environmental scientists to specifically mention that, where on street parking exists, the distance from pollution source (exhaust) to the diffusion tube must be increased to take account of the parked vehicles—which obviously ‘move’ the pollution source further away…position b).
However in the real world situation in Great Stuart Street shown above, and below, the traffic actually takes a single file line even further away, in effect another whole vehicle width, in order that they can take the mini roundabout next to the diffusion tube… Position c)
Only a very few residents turn left into Ainslie place, 99.9% of the traffic turns right, and down the whole street stays to the right in the centre of the road.
The tube measures the same level of pollutant the only difference is how close or far away the real source of the pollution is---this distance is however critical in applying the correction factor.
Just how critical is shown by the single example below using the last figures we can use, for December last year. Position a) is the one the council published.
Applying position a) traffic close to kerb 36.6 ug/m3 (below EU fines level 40ug/m3)
Applying position b) parked cars 40ug/M3 (right on the EU level
Applying position c) real position of cars 43.2ug/M3 (ABOVE EU fines level)
The Council have alleged that Dr Ashley Lloyd is selective with facts for revealing the council were applying the Correction factor wrongly.
They have never put in writing any scientific reason for saying this—Dr Lloyd has published these figures over and over again, with full explanations. The one above is a précis.
The question really isn’t one of great scientific complexity or arcane matters of physics and chemistry involved in the collection of the data.
It is simply one of commonsense about where exactly the vast majority of exhaust pipes really are on that particular road day in and day out, and the plain factual truth is they are not next to the kerb, or even next to the parked cars but further out to the centre line of the carriageway.
Once that fact is accepted the rest is simple mathematics.
In addition to the abovethe residents do maintain that the concentration of particulate and NOx is likely to be higher, in a real sense, in the basement areas than at street pavement level on many occasions, which would AGAIN increase the recorded levels even further above the EU limits.
Edinburgh Council have created situations in which they say these claims, have been shown to be false. This is not the case, they are legitimate claims based on the available evidence and it is the City of Edinburgh Council who are trying to avoid facing these facts..
In a recent meeting a document released by the Council specifically stated there would be no written report in support of proceedings---- As Sam Goldwyn said “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it was written on ...” and in the same spirit a public report that isn’t written down is neither truly ‘public’ nor a ‘report’.
- Did Edinburgh Council and Tie tell the councillors what was going on before announcing to the world that the project was £hundreds of millions over budget and Princes Street would be dug up yet again?
- Is the Board of TIE really telling us they have no idea whatsoever how much even the remants of the original scheme will cost?
- If this is so how can the ‘refreshed’ Business Case retain a shred of credibility
Last week under extreme pressure TIE were left with no alternative but to finally start revealingsome of the extent of the effects of the flawed planning that from the beginning has marked the Edinburgh Tram Project.
That extraordinary press conference shone a light at last on some of the things TIE and CEC have worked extremely hard to keep hidden for over a year— the growing chasm between the costs of the project and the budget being one of them; something strenuously and repeatedely denied until as recently as last month.
Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the convenor of the key Council committee (Transport, Infrastructure & Environment) which has nominally meant to have been controlling the project on behalf of the people of the city, quoted this week:
Gordon Mackenzie, the council's transport leader, said: "My understanding is that the cost of getting a line to St Andrew Square will be substantially more than £600m. That is inevitable now, although the final figure is still an unknown."
Councillor Mackenzie is also a Full Board Director of TIE.
Is he really saying that the Board of Tie’s best advice to the Council is that they no longer have a clue what anything will cost?
So how can he and his Board Room colleagues continue to proclaim their faith in the ‘refreshed’ Business Case which only a few weeks ago was being founded on the Tram reaching York Place for £545M?
It is also becoming clear that councillors, supposedly having to prepare for a vital Council meeting to debate and decide the Tram’s future, were as surprised as everyone else to hear that Princes Street is to be dug up for another 9 months despite the fact that this Light Rail system now faces the clear prospect of being scrapped altogether.
Councillors must surely regain control of both the TIE Company and their own Council employees.
Quotes and contact details
Dr Ashley Lloyd, Chairman of one of three Workshops working to find ways forward on various aspect of the project said: ”
“The announcement, that just months after the chaos and upheaval on Princes Street ended it is to be done all over again, illustrates better than any words the chaos of a project that has totally lost its way.”
“TIE who just a few weeks ago wre still saying the original £545M would cover the route being pushed to York Place, now says it might be £600M, or even more, just to get to Haymarket. Experts working in our group were saying this in open letters months ago, most recently within the last fortnight, and yet have been consistently ignored and sidelined.”
“CEC and TIE often seem more involved in spinning stories to present the project in the best possible light rather than facing squarely up to facts and problems besetting it.”
“The announcement that Princes Street is to be dug up again simply highlights the chaos into which the project has descended isn’t just in it’s finances–but even now the Council and TIE refuse to face up to an even worse aspect; that of the wilfully created pollution that will spread across the City unless the decision to run what is in effect a Light rail system unable to share it’s route with general traffic is reconsidered.”
“The Council are now clearly and unambiguously shown to have been wrong in every key financial statement made about the project in the last four or five years--- it is vital they wake up and address properly the question of health damage that will ensue from the increases in pollution engendered by the Project.”
“It must be realised before it’s too late that ‘pressing on’ is exactly the wrong thing to do.”
Dr Derek Shepherd, formerly of Aggreko said: “I share Dr Lloyd’s concerns and that is why I have stepped forward to work with him, and the increasing number of other people, and accepting that, serious as the financial catastrophe now is, it could be dwarfed by the damage to the health of people forced to live next to roads suddenly grossly congested by traffic evicted from our City’s historic main thoroughfares.”
“In Singapore, on a similar Light Rail Rapid Transit system upon which I worked, we raised the railway on stilts to avoid this problem. However it seems that in the case of Edinburgh and at an early stage, this, and every other possibility was dismissed, in favour of capturing the roadway and evicting the traffic formerly using it.”
“The financial disaster now unrolling is not so much an unfortunate coincidence as an inevitable outcome of a plan that was flawed at the very beginning. The pollution problems also arise inevitably from those initial decisions and as the Report in 2003 shows these pollution effects were clearly foreseen even at that time.”
We simply don't know what the cost of building a tram line to St Andrew Square is going to be,
“This above from Leader of the Council Jenny Dawe illustrates graphically the increasing chaos amongst the people running this project, and taken with the statement reported from Councillor Mackenzie is extremely worrying.”.
“The Council leader went on to say”:
‘…. butit absolutely has to go into the city centre as the businesses case would not be viable if it only goes as far as Haymarket. There's no doubt about that.’
“However here is plenty of doubt that any business case for the tram continues to exist at all as the recent ‘refreshed’ Business Case is based upon the original £545M cost…yet that is going to rise to £750M and even beyond that figure possibly.”
“In effect the Council’s own statement designed to shore up the case for continuing with the project under the circumstances has effectively destroyed it.”
Alistair Laing widely respected former Civil Engineer and another person working on the voluntary workshops to find a solution to the problems besetting the project said:
“The announcement to re-lay the lines in Princes Street, the excuses for the need to do this, and the evidence this presents of a project careering from crisis into a chaotic catastrophe, is very troubling.”
“In the upside down world of TIE every new disaster becomes a reason for an upbeat Press statement that all is well and everything going to plan.”
“If it turns out TIE and Council employed staff concocted their plan and unveiled it ahead of the Council meeting it may be time for the new government to step in and start to draw a line under this disaster, before it bankrupts the City.”
- An open letter from prominent and respected experts in the field of Civil Engineering remains unanswered and unacknowledged by TIE; as the grotesque bungling on Princes Street confirms their worst fears
- These questions from respected Civil Engineers highlight even more potential problems for the Tram project which require serious answers from the City of Edinburgh and their ‘arms length’ company TIE.
An open letter was sent to the elected representatives of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood and the elected Councillors of the City of Edinburgh Council, as well as TIE.
The three experts who have looked closely at the project are:
Alan Welsh: A Systems Engineer and long term critic of the project who correctly predicted in mid-2005, many of the problems that have since befallen the project.
Alistair Laing, a retired, Civil Engineer who played a part in several large projects in Scotland and others in developing countries across the Globe.
Dr Derek Shepherd who, following a long and distinguished career mainly abroad, as the Managing Director for Taylor Woodrow in West Africa for 22 years before moving on to the successful Singapore Transit Authority Light Rail system and latterly as a full Board Director of Aggreko PLC during it’s rise to being an Internationally recognised Scottish Industry Champion, as well as the former head of Aggreko International Power projects. Having not quite retired he is currently the Chairman of NGenTec an Edinburgh University spin-out company in the Renewable Energy sector.
There specific and pertinent questions are ones that at worst could mean the original total budget for the entire planned project being completely exhausted well before even Haymarket to the Airport can be completed---indeed to complete this stretch could cost many tens of millions over budget to complete:
1) The most technically and environmentally challenging part of the Edinburgh Tram Project is the section of the route beside the railway between Baird Drive, Murrayfield Stadium, the ScotRail Depot and Haymarket Yards. Has the proposed work on this section been costed and approved by Network Rail and ScotRail bearing in mind that the main Edinburgh to Glasgow and Edinburgh to the North railway links may not be compromised?
2) Has the cost of removing all the contaminated ground that has been logged and plotted along the above section of the works been taken into consideration?
3) Has the cost of relocating the Fuel Tanks at the ScotRail Depot, and the possible removal of contaminated ground associated with the former location of these fuel tanks been, taken into consideration?
4) The elevated portion of the line adjacent to the Murrayfield Stadium that lies within the Water of Leith flood plain may require to be piled. Have the full costs of this operation been assessed and taken into account within the current budget? If so what is that cost?
5) Has provision been made with the railway authorities to maintain access at all times given that the ScotRail Depot approach road crosses the tram alignment?
6) Can the Managers confirm that work by Network Rail on the proposed Gogarburn Rail/Tram interchange has been cancelled for at least Five Years?
7) Can tie confirm that existing approved funding is sufficient for the tram to reach Haymarket and to be operational including all staff training and the electrification of the system?
8) Finally, if there is to be a temporary halt at Haymarket has provision been made for the design and construction of an integrated tram, bus, taxi, private transport interchange at this location?
Alan Welsh B Eng, FRSSA,
Dr Derek Shepherd FICE,
Alistair Laing FICE.
Dr Ashley Lloyd, a leading figure and Chairman of one of the Workshops working to try and rescue the tram project from disaster: ”
“My own work has been with data, much of it actually the Council’s own, that has revealed an enormous blind spot in the initial planning and understanding of the potential effects on health of the mass diversion of traffic across many parts of Edinburgh---including many areas that will never be anywhere near a tram route.”
“Here a similar examination of the available facts in the public domain has led Civil Engineering experts to ask further potentially damaging questions about the project.”
“Before the Light Rail Rapid Transit project can be saved the people of Edinburgh need to know what the true state of the project is— if questions cannot be provided and the entire budget used before Haymarket can be reached it makes the recent announcement that lines will be re-laid in Princes Street, with nine more months of upheaval, almost incomprehensible. .”
Dr Derek Shepherd, formerly of Aggreko said: “I have stepped forward, despite my workload with NGenTec because frankly as a civil Engineer I am embarrassed by Scotland becoming a laughing stock over this project.”
“When all is said and done we are the Country whose engineers, to a significant extent built the modern world, from James Watt and Thomas Telford onward Scots of talent and energy have planned, organised, financed and built great engineering projects across the world.”
“Yet here in our Capital City we have got ourselves into a sad situation where a project such as this is making us an object of worldwide ridicule.”
“There are many business people across Edinburgh who can’t understand how this project has careered so far out of control and continues to do so.”
“What we need to do now is take a sensible look at what is left of the money allocated and see how best we can use that. To go on and on without a clear idea of how much will be needed is way outside any business project I have ever been involved with, we are close to the point where continuing blindly with this project is to be losing our grip on reality.”
“We have to know now what the options are or we risk paying many tens and even hundreds of millions more on a fragment of the original plan that will then simply lose money throughout its entire life.”
Alistair Laing widely respected former Civil Engineer and another person working on the voluntary workshops to find a solution to the problems besetting the project said:
“The announcement to re-lay the lines in Princes Street, the excuses for the need to do this, and the evidence that gives of a project careering from crisis into a chaotic catastrophe, is very troubling.”
“I find it extremely difficult to find the words to describe how I feel as it seems we have a kind of bureaucratic bulldozer running amok with no way to stop it.”
“In their upside down world every new disaster seemingly becomes a reason for an upbeat Press statement that all is well and everything going to plan.”
“ The Councillors desperate to try and preserve their own reputations and political careers and the TIE staff simply looking after their well paid jobs seem to be locked together so closely that they can’t see what is clear to everyone else.”
“How often can one say that ‘words fail me’ about this project? But then what else can one say following that truly bizarre press conference performance and statement by Vic Emery and Jenny Dawe?”
“It’s like living through a kind of modern version of an old Soviet style Five Year Plan, the more clearly worse everything gets the more strident the claims we are forced to listen to that all is going well--- If Orwell wrote ‘Animal Farm’ today he’d write it about the Edinburgh Tram Project for sure!”
- Objectors welcome statement by top Lib-Dem candidate in the battleground marginal constituency of Edidinburgh Central as he says about the Tram project:
- “I wish to see no more time or money wasted on this ill fated project.”
The fast growing group of residents and traders battling to prevent the Tram project being railroaded through despite health, traffic and business fears have welcomed the clear statement by Alex Cole-Hamilton Lib-Dem candidate for the marginal Edinburgh centre constituency calling for the City to halt the project and instead spend the money on ‘one of the best bus networks in Europe. “
“In answer to you question as to where I stand on the trams project. I used to be a tram enthusiast but over time, and the problems that you have laid out, that enthusiasm has deserted me.
I wish to see no more time or money wasted on this ill fated scheme. We have one of the best bus networks in Europe and I would much rather see investment and support for improving that rather than a scheme which has caused pollution, traffic chaos and business closure.”
This of course matches exactly the views of the objectors groups throughout the last two years, now presently working in their spare time onthree workshops designed to produce workable proposals to present to the Council and to Tie, to prevent the project spoiling the health, lives and livelihoods of people in the City.
One of the residents Alistair Laing,a former prominent Civil Engineer, said: “Mr Cole-Hamilton has clearly stated that he realises the time has come to grasp the nettle and call a halt to a project that lives on only through the inertia and vested interests of those still in charge.”
“In specifically mentioning that it is the ‘caused pollution, traffic chaos and business closure’ that has led to his ‘tram enthusiasm’ deserting him, some may try and brand his call, to finally recognise reality and slam on the brake, as a U turn, but when the runaway train, or Tram, is heading at full speed for the collapsed bridge a U turn is probably the best option, and recognising this reality definitely the right decision.”
“I know the residents fighting the tram project also share his view that the City already has one of the best public transport bus networks in Europe and this should be supported, rather than partially dismantled by people desperately wanting to justify one of the worst Tram Projects in the World.”
Dr Ashley Lloyd,another prominent objector whose work first uncovered the scope of the alarming potential health effects from the project created pollution, said: “I felt it was significant and encouraging that Mr Alex Hamilton-Cole immediately identified both traffic chaos and the pollution it causes as key reasons to change his views---our message throughout has been that the health of people must always come first and of course that has to be non negotiable.”
“Whether it is the health of 25 people or the 250,000 plus shown in their own initial planning documents, is immaterial. But the fact that their own key 2003 appraisal showed that over 250,000 people would see worse air quality as a result of the so called ‘Tram wider issues’, is rightly proving just too large a fact be to ignored .”
“I am hopeful now that Mr Cole-Hamilton’s statement, coming from someone in the same party that at the Council level is most closely associated with the project signals a real change of mind and heralds a long awaited change of mind by politicians now ready to retake proper control of the project.”
“We would like to issue an invitation to Mr Cole-Hamilton to attend the next workshop and see for himself the work being done right now by ordinary people totally in agreement with his vision for public transport.
(As this news article contains pictures that haven't displayed -please click here to see the PDF version on this site in Resources)
FIDDLING THE FIGURES….. How to make pollution disappear and keep the tram project on track, without having to lift a finger.
Residents were extremely disappointed that a meeting designed to ‘get at the truth’, turned out to be so over controlled, heavily choreographed and carefully ‘managed’ it failed to cover many of the issues.
Previous meetings have been curtailed, debate shortened and as a result councillors called for an ordinary meeting simply to get at that facts with help from invited experts…..This didn’t happen.
Below are two pictures that show just ONE of many questions that were not answered, on the day
- This picture shows the real situation in Great Stuart Street—the pollution monitor has been fixed 2 metres up the roadside pole, the trafficflows down the street near the middle of the road. Anyone who knows the are or stands there can see this---it is what is known as reality.
- This is the picture has three possible distances overlaid that copuld be used to measure where the real traffic is, from the measuring diffusion tube on the pole to the left of the pavement.
2.1) The little 0.37metre distance on the scale is from the pole to the kerb,this is the pole-to-kerb distance used by the City of Edinburgh Environmental Health department to add into the ‘Correction factor’ used to get the pollution level. Their figure showed 34.5 of the measurement units. These units are expressed as parts per million of a cubic centimetre (ug/M3)
2.2) But as the picture shows, the plain fact that parked cars occupy the kerbside, as in many of Edinburgh’s streets, means that the ‘line of traffic’ is always never less than another 2.06 metres further out ---Parked cars force the traffic further away.
2.3) In fact it is even worse. Because as the picture shows the layout of the street means traffic moves in a single line down the centre because they are all going to bear right around the small painted roundabout in order to head into, and immediately out of, Ainslie Place and along St Colme Street onto Queens Street. This is yet another 1.8 metres further out, even than the 2.06 metres mentioned above.
This is the reality.
It is the plain, obvious, undeniable truth but nevertheless the council, desperate to not have to admit both the mistake, and then the subsequent covering up of this mistake, continue to deny it.
Thisis the reason that for many months Dr Lloyd argued with the council to change the way they were calculating pollution levels; it is why he said the Council’s were too low.
It is important to understand that this is not ‘leading edge science’ as some councillors have said, that is not even fully agreed by the scientists, it is just an obvious mistake and an obvious cover up.
3) Professor Laxen recalculated the figures using the 2.06 metres extra, to take account of the parked cars, and said that although the figure has moved up from 34.5 ug/M3 to 36.5 ug/M3, this was still below the EU statutory limit of 40 ug/M3.
But it is closer to that limit.
3.1) If the distance were further increased by the 1.8 metres more that the plain facts of the street demand, then of course the figure would rise again.
Very probably to a level of 38.5 UG/M3 or above.
That is a large rise from the council’s still ‘official figure’ of 34.5 ug/M3 and is getting very close to the EU limit that the Council are desperate to stay below.
Since these figures in 2010 the amount of traffic going through the street has risen enormously especially from late 2011.
The likelihood is that if the full 4.23 metres were used in the calculation, instead of the 0.37 metres being used, with the traffic flow increases, that the Council’s mistaken 34.5 ug/m3 from 2010 would now be above the EU statutory limit at which the UK or Scottish Government would be liable to fines running into tens and possibly hundreds of millions of pounds.
The Council have not recalculated their figures in the light of the above, and indeed justify themselves saying they made no mistake ‘because they followed the guidance at the time’.
When is a mistake not a mistake? when Edinburgh Council don’t want to admit to one.
They now say that because the traffic parking on the street is ‘coming and going’ they don’t need to take account of it ---as if the vehicles driving along will ‘swerve’ into and out of empty parking spots thus being near to the kerb and justifying their position.
This is just absurd nonsense and to use it in order to not measure pollution properly is sinister and compounds the issue instead of facing up to it.
- The above example isn’t the only one—many similar questions of simple fact remain unanswered. It is strange, bordering on grotesque, behaviour by the council to blame residents for asking questions that alarm people, and accuse residents of ‘misusing data’ while such simple and straightforward points as above remain covered up
- The pollution hit list the council haven’t published
- The Council’sown maps and figures can be used to show tie and CEC which streets will get hit next -- if they don’t come to their senses and change the plan.
- see the list below
In 2008 a very expensive study document showed which streets would see a large increase in trafficas a result of the arrival of the Tram.
The list below shows just ten of these streets.
The data doesn’t list them in order of severity--- so the list isn’t a league table as such, more a group of streets taken from a much larger group, which will all be in the same boat as Great Stuart Street and Randolph Crescent, predictedby the council to see large increases in traffic
The only difference is that the tram hasn’t yet reached their areas so in that sense they are still just predictions; for streets like Great Stuart Street, and indeed and others in the West End the +200 vehicles per hour increase, and the pollution and noise this brings, is now a reality thanks to the closure of Shandwick Place, and has been for well over a year.
But the people in the streets on the list, and many more streets we could have named, can be certain of one thing --- they too will start seeing more than 200 vehicles an hour as well once the tram comes down their way.
Ten of Edinburgh Council’s streets of shame
(Just ten streets facing increases of over 200 vehicles per hour each day because of the tram)
1) Lindsay Roadin Newhaven
2) Cables Wynd, Leith
3) Bonnington Road
4) London Road
5) Douglas Crescent
6) Broughton Road
7) East Claremont Street
9) Dundas Street
10) Ravelston Dykes
Background Bullet points:
- The objectors have created a map based on data from the TIE VIsum Traffic Model produced in 2008. The assertions in this release are based entirely on TIE/CEC’s own Visum 2008 traffic model. This shows where the traffic displaced by the tram is expected to go.
- We know the figures of 134,500 households worse off in terms of NO2 pollution and 139,000 households worse off in terms of PM10 particulates is particularly hard for people to believe in. It comes from the Council’s own predictions however, based on the introduction of the tram.
- It is specifically not the case that these worse-off figures ‘ would have happened anyway---the traffic modelling experts predicted them because of increased congestion produced BY the tram requirement for empty roads to operate on.
- The council second line of defence has been to say that the households would be worse off but only by a small amount.
- This has been demolished by increasing scientific knowledge of the effects of traffic created pollution, by the fact that Edinburgh have consistently wilfully underestimated this problem and finally, by the fact that Edinburgh Council, because of a mathematical calculation they applied to raw measurements of pollutants incorrectly, have already been underestimating real pollution now by up to 40% for a long time.
- Their final line is that some streets will see more traffic and some less; it’s a winners and losers situation!
- The streets with less traffic are Leith Walk, Shandwick Place, Princes Street and similar, and recognising this goes to the heart of our case. These streets are less residential and the overwhelming number of visitors and tourists spend relatively little time in them, they are the traditional through routes of the City. The streets on the list, and the many others that could be are predominantly residential and so the people exposed there are exposed for many more hours on many more days, increasing by many hundreds of times the possibility of them getting health effects when compared to a few hours a week for an Edinburgh shopper, or the few hours a visit for tourists and visitors.
- The winners therefore win little and are few…the losers are many (over 250,000) and lose a lot, in some cases everything.
- The trade off now involves 3 stops in Shandwick Place, Princes Street and St Andrew’s Square—prominent locations but without any real great economic advantage in Tram Business case terms. In reality senior figures at TIE and the Council are trading residents’ health against the vanity aim of having trams ‘on Princes Street’, without which, they fear the project will be seen as an abject failure.
- It already is an abject failure and trading resident’s health against a few hundred yards of tram line will make it more of an abject failure not less.
This is a serious and indeed extremely grave situation; the Council seem to feel that any acknowledgement of the problems may provide a final nail in the coffin of their plans to build even a fragment of the original network.
Objectors say that is to put the cart before the horse and the real question is to decide that knowingly making people ill can never be an acceptable element in planning, after having accepted that, then see how the tram can be altered to remove that threat.
The first step is to conduct a proper, scientific and sober assessment: The ‘Health Impact Study’ that ought to have been done at the beginning of the project but wasn’t. That will give them, for the first time, the clear picture of the health effects likely to be produced by noise, and physical accidents as well as air pollution coming from the increases in vehicles of all types.
The Govt department DEFRA are providing new instructions for all councils in the UK measuring air quality following work by an Edinburgh resident.
Dr Ashley Lloyd, and Edinburgh resident, has maintained that the City of Edinburgh council figures for traffic created air pollution have been routinely and consistently under-estimated because of an error in applying a mathematical formula ‘correction factor’.
DEFRA, now agrees there is a problem, and has sent new instructions to all Councils on how they must properly interpret measurements….. amd highlighting exactly the issue (involving on street car parking) Something Dr Lloyd has been saying for over 18 months.
On this issue Dr Lloyd has been proved to be right and the council wrong.
This is a vital development in the process of the Council realising exactly how big the issues are because of the problems of traffic created pollution caused by the flawed Tram Project planning.
Dr Ashley Lloyd has maintained throughout that the ‘official figures’ on air pollution consistently underestimate the problem, and the reality is that the City is already breaking EU legislation on Air Pollution levels.
The Council have said they are not breaking EU levels but now Professor Laxen’s new instructions show Dr Lloyd has been right----and the Council wrong.
Quotes below from residents Dr Ashley Lloyd and resident Alistair Laing:
Dr Ashley Lloyd, resident:
“The application of the DEFRA correction factor is a technical, and in some ways complex issue, but the effect of the error by the Council has been to underestimate the real levels of pollutants in the Air being produced from traffic.”
“I believe it is very likely that the correct application of the factors may show that Edinburgh is already breaking EU levels. This is crucial because the breaking of these levels, and the health dangers entailed, isn’t some sort of inevitable result of things beyond anyone’s control.”
“It is a direct problem of the waythe Tram project has been planned.”
There is no inevitable need to have to completely empty all the established main through routes for traffic that is only happening because of the way this Tram project was planned in this City.”
“ I believe the under estimation of air pollution is part of a number of mistakes arising from wrong headed thinking at the very beginning of the project that has resulted in the present situation in which we find ourselves.”
“The new instructions from Defra are just one more development in a process that must result in our Council looking urgently at the core problem underlying everything else—how to alter the Tram project to reverse the increases in Air pollution--- and not just carry on with business as usual.”
Alistair Laing, resident:
“Ashley Lloyd has put a tremendous amount of work into showing that flaws in the way the Tram project was planned will produce horrendous health issues for decades ahead in Edinburgh.”
“This development shows that finally people are waking up to the size of this problem and the gravity of the issues.”
EdinburghCouncil made the initial mistake of being beguiled by a picture of a traffic-free Princes street with café and continental bars lining the street. They have tried to make this artist’s impression fit in with the reality of what is a light Train rapid transit mass mover system, not a Tram as most people understand it”
“This light train needs to run at such a high speed that it isn’t safe to interact with other traffic and so the very streets that have grown up as the main thoroughfares, and for that reason arelined by shops and offices with few residents, have needed to be emptied of traffic.”
“This traffic has to go somewhere, so the lorries, HGVs, vans, buses and cars are increasingly jammed through streets like Great Stuart Street, almost completely residential, twisting and cobbled and simply never designed to cope and unable to cope.”
“As the traffic inches through these winding streets the same number of vehicles produce immensely greater pollution both what experts term tail pipe pollution, or exhaust gases, and also particulate matter, minute particles rubbed from brakes, clutches and other moving parts every time a car starts, and stops, and accelerates and brakes.”
“The Council have been in denial about every aspect of this problem but they cannot continue ignoring it--- They have been in effect careering along in the pitch dark without headlights and this development with Defra is a Red Light they will ignore at their peril.”
1)---Where the traffic used to flow, Shandwick Place pictured in the middle of what used to be called a busy Saturday afternoon. It is often deserted yet it is the historic route through Edinburg, straight and wide, and designed to carrytraffic swiftly and efficiently, minimising pollution --- Fewer people live here
2) Where traffic fails to flow now, choking a residential street in the World Heritage Site, that the Council describe as a ‘Jewel in Edinburgh’s Crown’, the congestion last for for hours a day . People living in these streets are seeing the traffic displacement now that will follow for more and more streets across the City if the Tram is pushed through without changes….many.many more people live in the streets now seeing the traffic rises.
TIE’s own figures in 2003 predicted 134,500 households in Edinburgh would have worse Air Quality in respect of two elements of pollution caused by traffic --- these pictures show how this can happen.
These pictures can be supplied for use Royalty Free when used in connection with Edinburgh Tram project stories. These versions are sufficient for websit
TWO DEVELOPMENTS --- ON THE ISSUE OF THE HEALTH EFFECTS CAUSED BY THE TRAFFIC DIVERTED BY THE TRAM
- A City Councillor on the Transport, Infrastructure and Environment committee says “The main problem…. is the TRO process was not designed to cater for projects… like this one.”
- “It could be a grave decision that was agreed …. If it subsequently transpires that there are implications for resident’s health, by shifting a busy arterial route into residential streets.”
- A Packed Edinburgh Residents meeting asks ‘why haven’t we been told any of this before?’
A group of residents fighting to have the Edinburgh Tram project properly re-examined in the light of alarming pollution issues caused by the massive diversions of traffic from historic arterial ‘through routes’ into residential streets have found more support.
SNP councillor Stefan Tymkewyczattended an informal meeting with residents in order to see the issues in detail—and have the opportunity to ask detailed questions; two of his key comments are in red font above.
Following this meeting he attempted to have a controversial TRO thrown out in it’s entirety as an alternative to supporting it as it stood.
Although many of Councillor Tymkewycz’s colleagues on the committee also expressed worries and concerns over emerging evidence of health effects in recent statistics---and of doubts surrounding the accuracy of council measurements, the controversial motion was eventually passed.
It was then decided by this committee to form a special ‘working group’, following a suggestion to do this by another councillor on the committee; which would include Council Environmental Health staff, Dr Ashley Lloyd and another of the residents making the case , as well as leading UK independent experts to try and establish the real facts.
This special ‘Science Group’ is in addition to the already announced workshops, themselves intended to improve the way the Tram affects the lives of people living in the City.
The residents group were given a chance to tell people from across the New Townwhat exactly was going on in a meeting organised in the French Institute, and the reaction of many in the meeting showed that after all the Council’s ‘consultations’ many people simply still did not know about the acute impacts caused by what had been sold to them as a ‘temporary’ traffic measure while the tram was being built.
Dr Ashley Lloyd, one of the residents, said:
“The council cannot keep maintaining that their consultations show people have been properly consulted and have expressed massive support for the Tram based on knowledge of the impacts that the Council predicts it will have on their environment.”
“The figures, claims and the consultations seem to have forgotten to include the environmental impact on residents who already feel well served by a bus system that is highly praised, highly flexible and has great potential to become much cleaner in the future.”
“Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) aren’t meant to be used to make an enormously significant change in the way traffic flows across the City, by stealth---- To introduce them, as they were introduced, , as Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTROs) ‘while the Tram is built’ and then to disclose that the plan was to make them permanent and can be justified because the ‘experiment’ has worked is actually quite shameful.””
This whole project would never have been conceived in this way if the wider impacts were acknowledged at the start and the stated need for ‘integrated transport’ systems was extended to include integration into the life of the City. It seems evident that these inconvenient facts were largely ignored and omitted from the picture of a tram system as clean, green and good for everyone.”
“ Then, having started the work, there is an imperative to marginalise the concerns of residents, even though the often quoted support of 3% of Edinburgh’s population is dwarfed by the 134,500 households expected to bear increased noise and air pollution 24/7.”
“As the residents meeting showed when people do understand the true facts clearly---they are both extremely worried, and increasingly angry, about how the council seem determined to plough on regardless of the cost either in cash or health.”
Allan Alstead another resident, said:
“I welcome the remarks from Councillor Stefan Tymkewycz who I feel has shown the way for all of the other councillors, both on the Committee charged with overseeing the Tram, and the whole Council to whom they report.
“It is very encouraging that he has taken time to look at the evidence for himself, and he has recognised that the whole project must be properly rethought in order to show that in this City the health of residents is not something the council treat as an incidental bargaining chip.”
“We are enormously encouraged and hope that more councillors and MSPs will follow his example and take a look at the facts themselves without relying on the spin that comes out of TIE---- we know the facts speak for themselves, and welcome it; Tie also know this, but are afraid of it.”
The message from our small group of residents is getting through at last---more people across the city are taking a look at the facts and becoming more and more worried.
Councillors are also beginning to question their own TIE experts’ view of the way this project is still being mismanaged in this health respect, as it has been mismanaged in the far more widely publicised area of project management and finance in the past.
Residents welcome warmly these recent developments while remaining determined to ensure things move quickly --- but even more welcome is the evidence of Councillors beginning to recognise the very real dangers while there is still time to do something about them.
FURTHER BACKGROUND— Councillor Stefan Tymkewycz’s full response following his detailed look at the implications of the present health dangers:
………………I first became aware some time ago of the more detailed aspect of what the objections from the residents of the Moray Feu were all about.
Whilst looking into the matter a bit further, and taking cognisance of your presentation and the extensive details provided by yourselves, I came to the conclusion that we, the council, were putting the 'cart before the horse' so to speak.
The main problem, as I see it, is the TRO process was not designed to cater for large scale projects like this one, which led to lack of scrutiny and amendments to the TRO prior to making the decision.
I was informed that legally I could not askfor a deferral of the TRO, for it to be amended, and for some of the outstanding questions to be answered.
That is why I moved for the TRO to be rejected in its entirety.
The most contentious aspect, and there were others, for myself, was the question of health.
The details that you had provided, the health statistics regarding respiratory admissions, even though they are circumstantial at this stage; and the responses to some of these questions from the department that led me to the decision to seek the TRO be rejected as it stood --- and as the health issues required answers in particular, which I believe should take primacy over the tram timetable being potentially held-up for a few minutes as it passed through the city centre.
It could be a grave decision that was agreed last week* if it
subsequently transpires that there are implications for residents health by shifting a busy arterial route into residential streets, especially with the urban canyon effect exacerbated with the basement living.
1) *note this was written by Councillor Tymkewycz last week…the week following the TI&E committee meeting to which he refers—this meeting was on the 23rd November 2010.
2) NoteThe bolded type passages in the letter by Councillor Tymkewycz above are bolded by us, not by him, but otherwise unchanged.
3) Note: Councillor Tymkewycz has given permission for us to quote him on this issue but of course is happy and more than able to speak for himself: tel: 0131 529 3277 | 0131 529 4080