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City of Edinburgh Council hear of unforseen pollution effects due to Tram project



Edinburgh Council to hear today (actual date Tuesday 27th,  July) about unforeseen toxic traffic pollution threats caused by new City Tram scheme posing a threat to families.


  • Health threats from toxic traffic pollutants
  • Threat improperly understood by Councillors
  • Residents face health implications
  • Potential for EU fines in the millions for breaching air quality levels.
  • Not only residents facing pollutants threat-- many more schools now on roads taking displaced traffic


Edinburgh residents have won the right to make a presentation to councillors responsible for the troubled Edinburgh tram scheme

The residents all live in the World heritage area of the City that has seen a massive increase in traffic displaced by the long running road works needed to prepare the city for the arrival of the Trams.

They feel they have been kept in the dark about vital health issues while the council and contractors battle to keep the projects finances on track.

Spokesman for the group, Ashley Lloyd, has gathered data over a long period of time that shows the Great Stuart Street area and streets around are facing problems that could affect more areas of the city.

He says: “We feel the council simply have not had sufficient information to properly consider vibration and worst of all, traffic pollutants like the particulates PM2.5, PM 10 and the toxic gas Nitrogen dioxide (NO2).”

“Today is all about giving them the chance to see the Councils own traffic and Environment information which, put together, shows clearly that residents across Edinburgh face massive increases in exposure to traffic pollutants all of which are known to damage health.

“The EU certainly take these traffic pollutants seriously and have powers to fine countries consistently breaking the acceptable level….in Great Stuart Street, to give just one example, the levels of NO2 monitored by the Council in December 2009 ranked it as the second most polluted street in Edinburgh, with over twice the EU statutory limit for an annual average.  This can be compares with ten years ago when it was one of the least polluted streets measured by the council.”

“We were the first part of Edinburgh to experience traffic diverted into residential streets from main roads along the tram route.  This rise is set to happen now over more streets across the Capital, many with schools on them where, like Great Stuart Street, the traffic was previously much lower.”

Allan Alstead, another concerned residentsaid: “We are not against a tram system as such, but it cannot be right that the system is being implemented in such a way that pollution is being increased.”

“The Nitrogen dioxideis heavier than air so tends to settle into cellars and lower levels, and of course Edinburgh has a lot of these properties, where families with children are being constantly exposed to it---and at night time levels can be similar to those recorded during day time.”

“Pollutants like particulates and Nitrogen Dioxide are heavier than air so are likely to settle into cellars and lower levels, and of course Edinburgh has a lot of these properties, where families with children are being constantly exposed to it ---- and at night time levels, when large diesel-engined lorries are passing through to make deliveries NO2 levels can even be higher than those recorded during the day time.”

Research shows that the gas gathers more in ‘Urban Canyons’, exactly like many Edinburgh streets where relatively narrow roadways have tall buildings either side.”

“Previously when through traffic was on specifically designed through routes the gas was dispersed relatively harmlessly---Princes street for instance has wide open spaces and, while present, the gas disperses far more easily there, and on the other wider streets that traditionally carried the now displaced traffic through the city.”

The residents group are worried that councillors, concerned about other well-publicised problems besetting the project, are being diverted from looking at the mounting evidence that current plans to divert traffic away from tram routes will lead to increased levels of pollution in residential areas across the city, especially at night when exposure to pollution is highest; and the health impacts potentially more serious.