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come on!! It isn't even an argument anymore

e2toe4's picture
on Wed, 01/22/2014 - 12:35

Layer by layer the Council's attempt to defend the indenfensible is being stripped away.

Today yet another massive report is all over the print, broadcast and internet media, showing yet again how big an issue traffic created pollution is for towns and cities across the world.

This is a problem that is going to end up creating enormous social changes across the entire world... and it is a problem that has lain at the heart of the issue our small group has had to fight to publicise for years.

It is a global problem..but even so Edinburgh stands unique amongst every major city in the world.

Only Edinburgh is pursuing traffic mangement policies, driven largely by the needs of the tram project, that they know make this pollution worse..not better..AND not just raise the pollution, but in effect fly-tip it from the main streets nobody, or very few people, live in into residential streets where most people live.

The facts themselves are not difficult to understand, but the conclusions do appear so odd that at first sight most people simply feel inside themselves that these facts simply cannot be true.  This is understandable for most people espeically given the connotations that the word 'Tram' rightly carries with it.

So even as they accept the facts, a bit like religious believers, they do not change their minds and scientific experts within the council, are not 'most people', they have no excuse.

The situation is a lot like the one in the 1940's when to most ordinary people it seemed incredible to believe that cigarette smoking could cause terrible diseases, and organisations with a vested interest quietly fostered that delusion for their own purposes, for a number of decades.

The fact is the tram project in Edinburgh was never expected to lower  pollution levels in the city but raise them.

In over 65% of streets where homes are found; residential streets, air quality was predicted, in 2003, to be worse NOT better, BECAUSE of the tram, not despite it. 

(Not just during the construction phase but because of ongoing traffic displacement during the years it would be running, these stretching for decades ahead.)

All the questions that arise from us saying this have been answered at length, and are contained elsewhere on this site, but the direct questions have nevre been answered by the Council who have expended enormous amounts of energy in avoiding answering them. In virtually ever single case OUR figures are THEIR figures but often hidden away in reports that carry 'executive summaries' and 'recommendations to Councillors' that seem to have been written without any reference to the statistics in those same reports, again on this site we have many of examples of this.

We started out straighforwardly working through channels simply trying to point out facts in the Council's own reports that at the time we felt they seemed to have missed somehow.

But things just never seemed that straightforward and simple, take this video on our site.

The entire issue does not hang on this single, absurdly straightforward, issue featured in the video. We only chose it because it seemed to us so simple, so straightforward that it would provide a common point upon which we could not fail to agree and upon which further discussions could progress.  However the very simple contention which to all ordinary people seems simply plain commonsense, has been bitterly disputed by the council for two or three years now, and remains unadmitted and unacknowledged by them today.

Yet in emails between top council executives, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation it is crystal clear that the points were well understood and the council were simply defending the indefensible because they had no answers that would not work against what they felt were their interests..

Our campaign is about a council pretending to be interested in pollution and the environment but being more interested a decade ago in getting their project 'away' with a reasonable looking price ticket, fearful that were the pollution issue to arouse public concern, the need to price in some measures to prevent it, would end up making the scheme as a whole far too expensive to ever consider.

The events that have followed seem to have built up a kind of momentum of their own, each successive evasion making necessary the next one.

An example is the promotion in every piece of literature for years by the council that the tram project is a Green project.

Once started down that track it becomes more and more difficult of course to suddenly stop and send out a press release saying 'Regarding the Green Tram project--Actually we have read the enormous feasibility report again and because we now realise this project is AT BEST carbon neutral, neither making things worse or better, and in terms of pollution, especially the dangerous very small nano particles, it actually makes things worse over 2 to 1 we feel in the interest of accuracy we need to reclassify it as not Green at all---but don't worry because really nothing very important has changed ".

But it is vital to understand that these are not some issues from the past to rake over, as the growing avalanche of scientific study and media reports show, this isuse is  a real and present problem not only for today but one that will get worse and worse in years ahead across the city if nothing is done..

This "stealth dumping" of dangerous pollution, and of course noise pollution as well, from shopping streets, where no-one lives and almost all who visit spend relatively little time, into residential streets, where many live and so have no option but to spend large amounts of time there everyday., also means that the MOST vulnerable people now have NO option but to spend the MOST time in the newly polluted residential streets.

Because these people are the old, the already infirm and the very young pre school children who spend most time at home.

Until facts are admitted openly  the process of reconciling the problems which are being exacerbated by past mistakes cannot begin.

Nor can this process wait for more years until a foot dragging Scottish Government, themselves far from blameless, finally deign to begin a public inquiry.

The fact that Edinburgh is pursuing policies that WILL make these pollution problems worse, is something that inevitably has to be addressed, sooner or later,  if the reconciliation of the problems our council HAS created is ever to start.

But reconciliation can't happen without truth, and truth can't appear until the council finally grow up and stop hiding from these kind of facts, and start facing up to them.

Today's report, much of it based on research right here in Edinburgh, cannot be dealt with by mouthing platitudes of concern.  The report deals in facts and it is long past time that  the council began doing the same and stopped being the problem and became the solution. 

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