Tuesday, 27 November 2007
1. Sederunt and Apologies
Susie Agnew welcomed attendees to the meeting and noted apologies.
2 Minutes of meeting held 15 August 2007
The minutes were accepted as a true record pending two amendments to the attendance list. (Proposed: Alastair Philp; Seconded: Susanna Lacey.)
3 Matters Arising
3.1 Gillespie school building update (item 3.1)
Susanna Lacey read out a letter from Fiona Hyslop MSP which said that the Scottish Government had never promised any money to rebuild Gillespie’s school, and that it had never received an application from Edinburgh City Council for such funding. In any case, the Government does not fund individual schools.
Marilyne MacLaren updated the group that she has met with Fiona Hyslop and the Secretary for Education to discuss this issue, and ascertained that there never was any money for this project and it is unlikely that there will be in the future. The Council will therefore undertake a feasibility study on the James Gillespie’s project along with similar feasibility studies on five other schools in a similar situation. Each study will cost £10,000 and will be submitted to the Scottish Government. The Council feel that this is the most that they can do at this stage since the Council cannot find the £100 million required for these projects, and there is at present no other way of funding them.
3.2 Police Report
It was suggested that it might be useful to see comparative crime figures over several months.
3.3 NHS Consultation
Susanna Lacey reported that although the group had agreed that there wasn’t sufficient consensus to submit a response to Better Health Better Care on behalf of the MSCC, she had noted the points discussed at the October meeting and submitted them anonymously.
4 Police Report
PC Lindsey Thomson, community beat officer for Marchmont, provided an updated police report:
· Eight actual and attempted house-breakings took place in October, four of which have been solved. This is a decrease since September.
· Cycle theft has increased to 17 since September, mainly in communal stairs. Four of these have been solved, and a leafleting campaign is underway to educate cyclists about looking after their bikes.
· There have been eight assaults, roughly the same number as in September. One of these was an assault with attempt to ravish, which took place on Bruntsfield Links on 28th October. An investigation into this is ongoing by the CID.
· A recent RBS takeover has led to protesters putting glue in the locks of some local RBS branches.
· There has been no rise in youth activity.
· The police tackled recent trends for egg-throwing at Halloween by asking local shops not to sell eggs to youths and to stick up anti-egg throwing posters. There were two egg throwing incidents on Halloween.
· There have been some positive results to inquiries into graffiti, and several culprits have been found.
· One man has been found in possession of heroine, and this individual was also responsible for some house-breakings.
· Three vehicles have been stolen, including a dumper truck on the Quarter Mile site which was later recovered.
· There have been seven road traffic offences in the local area.
· The police are currently giving out vouchers (roughly £20) to local pensioners who may need financial help over the Christmas period. Last year the vouchers were given to 420 pensioners.
Group discussion followed:
Cyclists cycling without lights on their bikes can pose safety problems.
Some school-aged children were seen trying to blow up a ticket meter in Spottiswoode Street.
There was some discussion of graffiti and its possible motives and deterrants.
Groups of underage drinkers is an ongoing problem at the weekends and the police are trying to tackle this.
Anyone who knows of local pensioners who might be appreciative of the vouchers should e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
5 Meadows Place
The MSCC had previously objected to the proposed closure of Meadows Place and Edinburgh City Council has agreed not to go ahead with the closure until the issue has been resolved with the MSCC. Caroline Burwell and Jonathon James from Edinburgh City Council had attended the September MSCC meeting, where there had been an emotive and lively debate.
Susie Agnew explained that Caroline Burwell and Jonathon James were unable to attend another MSCC meeting until January. Susie had therefore e-mailed some questions to the Council, and read out the e-mail she received from Jonathon James in reply:
When was the pavement widened in Meadow Place?
We were unable to find any information regarding the date of construction of the build outs on Meadow Place. By all indications the build outs have been in place for at least 12 years.
What accidents have happened before and after that?
Until we can ascertain an exact date of construction this information would be speculative at best.
When were the pedestrian lights put in Marchmont Road?
The Toucan Crossing was put in the latter part of 1997.
What accidents happened before and after that?
Marchmont Road/Melvilled Drive
1993-1997 28 accidents (8 cyclist; 7 pedestrian; 13 vehicular)
1998-2005 22 accidents (8 cyclists,5 pedestrian; 9 vehicluar)
Meadow Place/Melville Drive
1993-1997 6 accidents (2 cyclists; 1 pedestrian; 3 vehicular)
1998-2006 9 accidents (7 cyclists; 1 pedestrian; 1 vehicular)
The analysis of the Marchmont Road/Melville Drive Junction indicates that there is sufficient capacity to accommodate the traffic currently using Meadows Place.
What plans are there for Argyle Place?
There are conceptual plans to include a pedestrian phase at the Argyle Place and Melville Drive junction. The process is in its initial stages and is currently going through the Traffic Regulation Order procedures.
Further information about vehicular movements and accident types and locations was also provided.
Group discussion followed and the following points were raised:
- Susie had been trying to find out how many accidents took place before and after the pavement was widened, but the unavailability of information about when the pavement was widened prevented this.
- There was general consensus that the pavement was widened much more recently than 12 years ago.
- Fewer accidents have occurred at Meadow Place than at Marchmont Road, yet this is the area the Council intends to concentrate on.
- There was discussion of the possible causes and solutions to the problem, and general agreement that the area needs to be considered as a whole. There are genuine safety problems at the Marchmont Road junction, and it is important that Council money is spent on a rounded solution to solving these problems rather than simply focusing on the closure of Meadows Place.
- Marilyne Maclaren will see if she can find out when the pavements were widened at Meadow Place.
- Mark McInnes will take this issue to the transportation committee and ask for a report on Marchmont Road.
- Marilyne Maclaren will ask to see the ‘conceptual plans’ for Argyle Place mentioned in Jonathon James’ e-mail.
- The MSCC won’t withdraw its objection to the Meadows Place closure, and will organise a deputation.
6 Lunch Club
Cameron Rose updated the group that Mr Malik currently runs a successful lunch club for older people from Asian Communities. He is looking to start a similar, multi-cultural lunch club and is currently exploring options and applying to the Neighbourhood Partnership for a seed-corn grant.
There was brief discussion and it was mentioned that:
· If the MSCC is applying for a grant the lunch club should be located in the Marchmont/Sciennes area, and Marchmont St Giles was suggested as a possible location.
· Lots of people currently go to a daily lunch club at the Eric Liddel Centre.
Anyone interested in helping organising the lunch club or with any suggestions should contact Cameron Rose or Mr Malik.
7 MSCC Marketing
Ken Dougall explained that a sub-group of the MSCC has been set up to look at ways of attracting new people to MSCC meeting. The group has met twice and designed two questionnaires: one for MSCC attendees and one for the wider population. The sub-group will decide what to do next once the questionnaires results have been collated.
There was brief discussion of how the questionnaires should be distributed, including suggestions of using the wider MSCC e-mail list and distributing questionnaires at the Christmas Tree lighting party.
Ken then updated the group that the Traders’ Association is looking to raise its profile and is considering producing cotton or jute bags that say ‘Traders’ Association supported by MSCC’. He suggested that the MSCC might be willing to joint-fund this endeavour and requested £400. The group was positive about this idea and agreed to consider the funding request.
- The Treasurer and Chair will look at the MSCC accounts with a view to providing some funding for the bags.
- Alison Johnstone is aware of similar community projects to produce bags and will keep Ken updated with information he might find useful.
8 Christmas Tree Party
Cherry Ledlie updated the group that preparations for the Christmas tree party are progressing as planned. This event will take place on 8th December at 4.30pm. Charles Stewart also mentioned that the Marchmont St Giles Christmas Fayre will run from 10am – 1pm on the same day.
9 Reports of Meetings
9.1 Meadows Festival
Susanna Lacey updated the group that the Meadows Festival steering group has been meeting monthly, and it has now been arranged that the group will take over the existing Meadows Festival charity. An AGM will be announced soon for election of office-bearers, and they will be looking for volunteers to get involved. Volunteers will be required to be vetted by Disclosure Scotland. A health and safety study has been undertaken and the dates of 6-7 June 2008 have been provisionally booked for the event. The group will be applying for a grant from the Neighbourhood Partnership and will also be looking for funding from other sources. A few bookings of bands and groups to take part in the event have already been made and plans are progressing well.
9.2 Friends of the Meadows
Marilyne MacLaren updated the group that she had attended a packed meeting of Friends of the Meadows on Monday evening. It was felt that there was a need for a strategy to better manage the number/length of events on the Meadows, and that while the Meadows being damaged by too many events, there are likely to be other city parks which would benefit from these kinds of events. Marilyne will be spreading this message around the Council, and feels there is a need for all departments to work coherently on this issue. The meeting also discussed car parking on the Meadows, fly-posting and possible deterrents.
Alastair Philp notified the MSCC that a sub-group of the Neighbourhood Partnership is taking forward the issue of better management of the Meadows, and John Simon will be joining this short-life working group.
If anyone from the MSCC is interested in joining this sub-group they should let Alastair Philp know.
9.3 Student consultation meeting with the community
Ken Dougall updated the group that he had attended a meeting organised by Josh McAlister, President of the Edinburgh University Students Association. Various topics were discussed, including houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs), and it was an interesting meeting although no real consensus of opinion was displayed. It wasn’t clear what kind of follow-up there would be from this meeting.
10 Any other competent business
10.1 BlythBank Action Group leaflet on water supply
The BlythBank Action Group has produced a leaflet expressing concerns about a proposal to develop a poultry unit in the Scottish Borders. The unit would be built on top of an aqueduct which carries Edinburgh’s drinking water from Talla and Fruid Reservoirs, and the Action Group takes the view that this poses a threat to the integrity of the integrity and purity of the water.
- Susie Agnew will write to Public Health and Lothian Health Board for their opinion and information about this development, and based on this information the group will decide whether further action is required.
- Marilyne MacLaren and Mark McInnes will look at gathering information on this from a Council perspective, including contacting Scottish Water.
10.2 Cycle racks at James Gillespie’s Primary School
New bicycle racks have been placed on the pavement outside the primary school and there are concerns that they make the pavements too narrow. The racks were placed there by the Council without any requests from cyclists or the local community, and there is strong consensus that these racks should be removed.
Alison Johnstone will make enquiries at the Council.
10.3 Kilgraston/Grange Loan Intersection
Alastair Philp has seen some close and dangerous incidents at this intersection and wonders if the Council are going to consider improvements to this area.
Susie Agnew will raise this point with Caroline Burwell and make sure she can come to the January MSCC meeting.
10.4 Blackford Avenue
It was mentioned that it has recently become very difficult to get past at Blackford Avenue.
10.5 Quarter Mile Neighbourhood Relations Group
No-one has heard any more information about future meetings of this group.
10.6 Grant Application
Alastair Philp informed the group that the Neighbourhood Partnership has decided not to grant the MSCC’s recent grant application since many of these aspects will be covered by the Council-funded streetscape improvements.
Alastair Philp will find out what was in the original grant application to see if it contains aspects that aren’t included in the streetscape improvements. If so, he’ll try to get these aspects of the application continued.
11 Next meeting
The next meeting of the group will take place on Wednesday 12 December, beginning at 7.30pm, at St Catherine’s Argyle Church Community Hall, Grange Road.
Sunday, 25 November 2007
Saturday, 24 November 2007
These events are for specific route section of the Tram route design and invitations to attend these meetings have been delivered to residents and businesses on and around the tram route. I would therefore like to extend this invitation to committee members of your community council or organisation. The design plans will be on display and members of tie, Systems Design Services and the City of
There are 6 meeting scheduled over the next 2 weeks and I have detailed the meeting information including scheduled dates, times and venues below;
Date & Time
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Stenhouse Baptist Church Hall
Tuesday 27th November
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Wednesday 28th November
Stenhouse, St Aiden's Church
Thursday 29th November
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Monday 3rd December
Roseburn - Craigleith
Murrayfield Parish Church Hall
Tuesday 4th December
The Holiday Inn
Wednesday 5th December
We will be holding further events for the remaining sectors of the Tram route design in quarter one of 2008. There will be specific route sectors that you will no doubt be interested in; therefore; I will ensure that you are invited to these meetings.
If you are able to attend any of the above events then I look forward to meeting you on the night.
Community Engagement Coordinator
65 Haymarket Terrace
Tel: +44 (0)131 622 8336
Fax: +44 (0)131 622 8301
Mob: 07973 696965
On behalf of the Meadows Marathon organisation team, I would like to extend to you an
invitation to the Meadows Marathon 2008 Launch Night.
7 - 8.30pm, Thursday the 29th of November.
Quartermile Sales & Marketing Suite,
1 Lauriston Place,
The Meadows Marathon, supported by Quartermile, is an annual charity half marathon
and 5km fun run taking place on 2nd March next year. Owing to the huge success of last
year’s event we have expanded the number of places available, enabling up to a
thousand people to get involved.
We are looking for organisations to enter teams of runners in support of their local charity
of choice. This is a fantastic chance for you to participate in what will be an exciting
community event as well as a great opportunity to raise valuable funds for charity.
Our Launch Night will be the perfect opportunity for you to learn more about the
Meadows Marathon, meet our team members and find out how you can get involved.
There will be a short presentation from the organsation team and plenty of wine, canapés
and Christmas spirit. We invite you to come and enjoy the refreshments, discuss any
queries with the team and liaise with directors of other organisations from the area.
Please RSVP to the above contact details. We look forward to meeting you,
Monday, 19 November 2007
Traditionally, 1st class delivery performance in the weeks building up to Christmas is substantially worse than the rest of the year. The number of letters being delivered next day falls from over 90 percent to under 70 percent. The good news is that during the same period the 2nd class post performance just dips a little. This year we would like to test if this is true for Scotland. To do this we need your help.
We are looking for 300 volunteers for this study and hope you will take part by monitoring your mail each day. The study itself is very simple. The only requirement is to record how many items of mail you receive on as many days as possible, throughout the month of December (1st to 24th inclusive). We will supply the forms on which you record all the relevant information. In the New Year simply return your results to us, so we can collate the results from across Scotland.
Full instructions are attached, and you can also see a sample of the form we would ask you to complete.
If you would like to take part in our study please telephone us on 0131 718 6508 or e-mail Scotland@postwatch.co.uk and we will send you the mail monitoring forms.
Please feel free to circulate this information to others who you think may be interested in taking part.
Director, Postwatch Scotland
Postwatch Scotland Administrator
9-10 St Andrew Square
Direct telephone number: 0131 718 6508
Main Office telephone number: 0131 718 6508
You should begin to record results from the 1st of December and end on the 24th (the last delivery date before Christmas). Simply record the information outlined below, for each item of mail delivered.
Enter your own postcode in the top left hand corner as indicated in the sample below.
Your Postcode: EH2 2AF
Date mail received by you
Name of Postal Operator
(if other than RM)
First/Second Class, SD, RD etc
Date of Postmark
In column (1) enter the date that the item of mail was delivered to you.
In column (2) enter the name of the mail operator, if it is other than Royal Mail. This information will be found on the envelope, most usually at the top right hand corner.
In column (3) enter the type of service used, i.e. First Class, Second Class, Special Delivery (SD), Recorded Delivery (RD) etc. For First or Second Class this information can be found either on the stamp or within the postmark. (For Royal Mail the pricing for ordinary mail should be approximately as follows: First Class, Letters £0.34/Large Letters £0.48; Second Class, Letters £0.24/Large Letters £0.40. Other services such as Special Delivery should have a label appended to the envelope denoting which service it is.
In column (4) enter the date which appears within the postmark. The postmark will normally be found in the top right hand corner of the envelope. If this is unreadable or is not present please indicate this as per the sample above.
In Column (5) enter the town of where the item was posted. Again this can be found within the postmark near to the date of sending. If unreadable please indicate.
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
- Sederunt and Apologies.
- Minutes of Meeting held 10 October 2007.
- Matters Arising.
- Police Report.
- Meadows Place possible closure.
- Lunch Club: Cameron Rose.
- Community Council Marketing: Ken Dougal.
- Christmas Tree Party: Tina Cumming.
- Report of meetings.
- Next meeting 12 December 2007.
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
Susie Agnew welcomed attendees to the meeting and noted apologies.
2 Minutes of meeting held 12 September 2007
The minutes were accepted as a true record.
3 Matters arising
3.1 Gillespie school building update (item 5)
Group members informally reported that the Scottish Government had made the decision not to supply the £90 million required to undertake re-building of the school on site.
ACTION: Councillor Marilyne MacLaren will be asked to provide an update at the next meeting, including what action will be taken on this issue in future.
3.2 Neighbourhood Partnership (item 6)
Archie Enwood of Edinburgh City Council reported that he and Mike Shields would be the Neighbourhood Partnership liaison officers from the Council. Their role would be to come along to future meetings to provide a link between the City Council and the MSCC, answering any queries that might arise.
4 Police Report
PC Lindsey Thomson, community beat officer for Marchmont gave an updated police report:
· There have been 13 actual and eight attempts at housebreakings in the Marchmont area. Five of these have been solved. The vast majority of the properties broken into were situated off common stairs and were broken into during the daytime. Often the suspects gain initial access through the main door, which is insecure, or they buzz residents and pretend to be looking for someone that lives in that tenement block.
· There have been five thefts of bicycles, in all cases the bikes were chained to railings, 4 inside communal stairs, and one attached to an external fence.
· There have been two incidents of shoplifting, and six other general thefts. These don’t really form a pattern and do not seem to be linked, as they occurred in widely varying circumstances.
· There have been five thefts of motor vehicles and two attempted thefts. 5 out of these 7 have been solved. The thefts included 3 scooters, which are frequently targeted by younger lads, who seem to find it quite easy to cut through security chains and cables.
· No vehicles have been broken into, though one vehicle, left insecure, had its tax disc stolen.
· There have been nine assaults, all minor in nature, including 2 fights between schoolchildren. One more serious assault took place in Brougham Place. Three of these nine have been solved.
· There is a current trend of property being graffitied in Marchmont, including vehicles, gates and walls. PC Thomson will be launching a new strategy in the Southside to counter graffiti-tagging, which has become prolific in some parts of this area. Grafitti-tagging typically consists of an abbreviated name or nick-name, which identifies the individual or ‘crew’ responsible for the piece of graffiti. The initiative will involve cataloguing and matching photographs of all graffiti tags in the area, to enable them to be attributed to individual offenders. This means that when somebody is charged with one graffiti offence, they could additionally be charged with many other offences from the linked graffiti tags.
· There have been fewer youths hanging around in the Meadows during September than over the summer period. PC Thomson aims to gather more detailed data about ‘youth disorder’ activity on the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, and focus more resources on this recurring problem She would hope to introduce a partnership approach, involving local residents, and will keep the group updated on any progress made.
PC Thomson encouraged individuals to report any witnessed incidents of graffitti or new graffiti to the police. Digital photos of new graffiti are particularly helpful.
5 Meadows Place possible closure
Caroline Burwell and Jonathon James of Edinburgh City Council gave a presentation on the proposed closure of Meadows Place to motorised vehicles. They explained that Meadows Place is part of the main cycle route from Bruntsfield to Forrest Road, and that the proposed closure would ensure that this entire route was car-free for cyclists. The closure would be enforced by bollards which could if necessary be easily removed at a future date.
There was some discussion of the proposals, focusing mainly on whether this would adversely affect traffic flow in nearby streets, and whether this would have safety implications for cyclists. There was also some discussion of whether accidents involving cyclists are as well-reported as accidents involving motor vehicles.
Council representatives noted comments and explained that an impact study of the proposed closure is currently underway.
- Council representatives will return to update a future meeting on the results of the impact study.
- Cameron Rose had agreed at the July meeting to liaise with appropriate people at the Council reiterating the MSCC’s objection to the proposal. Since Cameron was not present at the current meeting, the group will await an update at a future meeting.
6 Controlled Parking Zone
Hugh Leather updated the group on proposed changes to the parking zones in Marchmont & Sciennes. In particular, he described the meeting attended by himself, Marilyne MacLaren, Cameron Rose, Jim Grieve and Brian Butler where the proposal was discussed in more detail. The community council has asked that rather than making a long narrow zone 8, that the boundary of S1 be extended to the Meadows and possibly Causewayside. City Development will do some more traffic modelling and will get back to us.
7 Special rubbish uplift
At the July MSCC meeting, several individuals had expressed concern at the new system for special uplift of rubbish, whereby residents are now entitled to just one free special uplift each year, with further uplifts being charged at £17.20 for a maximum of six items.
Chris Stanard of Edinburgh City Council Environmental Department explained that the decision to introduce this new system had been taken after benchmarking against other local councils, and that the £17.20 charge is comparable to the kinds of charges being made in other council areas. He explained that the charge helps to pay for the special uplift service, freeing up council money for what are seen as being more pressing priorities. Since the introduction of the new system in August, the number of people requesting special uplifts has reduced, causing further monetary savings. The Council has no reason to believe that fly-tipping has increased, but this is being monitored. There has always been fly-tipping, and whilst this is recognised as a problem, the Council does not expect it to increase under the new system. Rather, it is expected that people will be more efficient in their use of special uplifts, and residents will have a vested interest in reporting any fly-tipping they witness.
General discussion followed, and group members reiterated some of their concerns about the new system, including its expense for residents and expectations that it would increase fly-tipping. The view was expressed that it will penalise the conscientious while allowing irresponsible residents to continue having free special uplifts, since the Council will respond to any reports of fly-tipping. The group was slightly reassured to hear that the Council is monitoring the effects of the new system, but felt that the true effects of the new system could not be truly seen until monitoring took place outside university holidays, since a high proportion of Marchmont residents are students.
8 The Grange Cemetery
At the July meeting, there was discussion of the Council’s policy of flattening upright gravestones, with concerns expressed that, extended to its natural conclusion, this policy will eventually result in no gravestones being left standing.
George Bell, Manager for Bereavement and Public Health at Edinburgh City Council explained that this policy is the result of health and safety concerns. Many old gravestones were not originally laid properly, meaning that many now have a high risk of falling over. This has lead to deaths in some graveyards, with people being crushed by falling gravestones. It is likely that the owners of the land have responsibility for ensuring the safety of graveyards, and therefore the Council have introduced this policy for health and safety reasons.
Specially trained teams regularly check all gravestones on Council land. Where stones need to be laid flat, this is done carefully to minimise damage to the stones. Where possible, surviving relatives are notified if their family’s stone is unsafe, allowing them the opportunity to pay for its maintenance if they wish. Unfortunately the Council currently has no money available to maintain graveyards, though George Bell explained that he is making ongoing efforts to find sources of money that might allow graveyards to be maintained.
Susie Agnew updated the group that she, Dorothy Ryle and Ken Dougall had met with Mr Bell to discuss this issue, and had found the Council’s attitude helpful. Dorothy Ryle had also reported some minor maintenance needs of the graveyard, and Mr Bell’s team had responded almost immediately. George Bell encouraged group members to report any maintenance needs they spotted directly to Stuart Fagan, Cemeteries Officer on 0131 664 4314. There was also brief discussion of replacing the benches in the graveyard.
9 David Stay obituary
Susie Agnew informed the group that David Stay recently passed away. David was a valued member of the community and will be sorely missed.
10 NHS consultation
Susannah Lacey reported on her attendance at a public meeting about the discussion document Better Health Better Care. She explained that the Scottish Government is currently holding a consultation on this document, and that views expressed will be used inform a new Scottish Government health plan. There was brief discussion of the document and it was agreed that there was not sufficient consensus to submit a MSCC response, though individuals may of course submit individual responses if they wish.
The MSCC accounts are now available on the blog.
12 Report of meetings
There were no reports of meetings.
No further business was discussed.
14 Next meeting
The next meeting of the group will take place on Wednesday 14 November, beginning at 7.30pm, at St Catherine’s Argyle Church Community Hall, Grange Road.
Monday, 5 November 2007
The report is here:
Do you have a Complaint about the state of the Meadows?
Can you suggest how it can be improved?
Are you interested in Bruntsfield Links?
All are welcome at a Meeting at 7.30pm on Monday 12th November 2007, of the Friends of the Meadows & Bruntsfield Links at the Meadows Croquet Club, Leven Street, Edinburgh.
Mr David Jamieson, the new Head of Parks and Green Spaces in the Council has kindly agreed to come and meet Members and Councillors Johnstone and MacLaren will also be there, as will Mr Mike Shields, Community Parks Officer, in charge of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links
Further details from PL Yap (0131 229 0948, weekends or evenings)
Talla Main - Potential Threat to Edinburgh’s Water Supply
Where is the Talla Main……
The water supply for Edinburgh reaches the city by way of the Talla Main Aqueduct.
The land which ‘houses’ the Aqueduct is the Blythbank Estate which is situated close to the villages of West Linton, Romanno Bridge, Mountaincross and Blyth Bridge. It is owned by the largest egg producer in Scotland, Glenrath (Farms) Ltd and the company have lodged a planning application which, if granted, would create the largest free range egg farm in Europe.
Who we are…..
The BlythBank Action Group (BBAG) was formed by people living in the surrounding villages and we have combined our various areas of expertise to attempt to identify all the risks this development could create – environmental, economic and recreational. The scientists on the Group have also consulted one of the foremost experts on water pollution and management of water, Jane Shields of Living Water and the attached information should also provide vital information for the Council’s own experts.
Why we’re writing to you……
The fact that this will be the largest free range egg farm in Europe means it would be unprecedented in size and therefore any risks associated with this form of agriculture are difficult to quantify as there is nothing to compare it with at this time. The potential to pollute the water supply for the surrounding area and Edinburgh is a risk that needs to be fully evaluated now – before the application is granted.
Glenrath (Farms) Ltd already have one industrial sized shed on the site and the current planning application is for another nine. Intensive egg production on this scale must be fully assessed for public safety. For example, a key element is the amount of manure which free-ranging hens will drop outside their sheds: this has not been factored into any risk assessments by the developer or their agents – and more importantly, nor has it been assessed by any of the Statutory bodies. This is critical as the sheds are to be sited along the line of the Talla Main, and this loose manure will be able to make its way into groundwater which is collected by the Aqueduct on its way to the city.
You will no doubt be aware that manure is a well-known carrier of a number of zoonotic diseases – Cryptosporidium being just one of these. Other soluble components of manure are nitrates and phosphates. Intensive farming also uses
a number of veterinary products such as antibiotics – this area is already intensively farmed with both dairy cattle and sheep.
If the development was approved, this would result in nearly 1/3rd of a million free range laying hens living along the line of the Talla Main Aqueduct. We believe this must give cause for concern, due to the strategic importance of the aqueduct and its apparent vulnerability.
The Talla Main Aqueduct…..
The Aqueduct was built in 1900 and some 27 million gallons of raw water per day flows from the reservoirs in the Borders hills to the treatment plants in Edinburgh. At the time of construction, novel techniques with concrete were used, but in the last ten years or so, cracks have developed which have required remedial repairs. It is not a closed pipe, so groundwater is also gathered as the water is carried to the City. The most recent incident occurred on Thursday 4th October 2007, when the main burst through the surface of the A701 at Blyth Bridge.
What you should know ….
The enclosed information, from our own research and that of our consultant, outlines some of the main hazards and BBAG are happy to answer any questions which may arise.
BBAG had intended to delay raising public awareness of this issue until the full process of consultations between developer, Scottish Borders Council and statutory consultees was completed, and the Environmental Statement produced by the developer had been fully appraised. However, many of the initial concerns raised by both Statutory and non-Statutory bodies remain unanswered and we believe we now have no option but to bring our concerns into the public arena. There has been no risk assessment carried out to demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that the hazards identified are avoidable in the long term.
We are also concerned that Councillors will be put into the position of making a decision without being fully-informed, and without the vital information which an adequate risk assessment would provide. A risk assessment needs to be carried out now and the results made available for everyone that could be affected, and this should include Edinburgh City.
The planning application is well advanced and is likely to go for determination by the Planning and Economic Development Committee at Scottish Borders Council within the next month or two.
What you can do….
If you share our concerns, you should contact your local Councillor or MSP to alert them of your concerns. You can also write to Scottish Borders, the planning application reference is: 06/02193/FUL. Or you could also write to Scottish Water to share your concerns.
BBAG can be contacted at: www.bbag.org.uk if you have any questions or comments.
[Since going to print, we have been advised that the application will not go to the October Planning Committee – there is still time for you to take action.]