Edinburgh moves forward on transformative proposals

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Edinburgh City Centre Transformation,
© Keattikorn

Members of Edinburgh’s Transport and Environment Committee moved forward a series of strategic reports focusing on creating a more liveable city, enabled by an exemplar transport system

Approval was given to launch a consultation on major proposals under Edinburgh City Centre Transformation (ECCT), a strategy to reshape Edinburgh through a series of radical interventions aiming to significantly improve public spaces and prioritise movement on foot, by bike and by public transport.

Councillors also gave the green light to begin public engagement on plans for Low Emission Zones (LEZ), which, if progressed, would see Edinburgh implement a citywide LEZ. The scheme responds to the threat to public health posed by poor air quality and is supported by initial consultation that saw 75% of residents supporting restrictions on polluting vehicles.

The committee also agreed a proposed draft framework for the City Mobility Plan, which, following extensive stakeholder engagement, proposes a vision, objectives and package of policy measures for achieving a ‘cleaner safer, inclusive and accessible transport system’.

Transport and environment convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “This is about building resilience for the future, responding to the rapidly evolving needs of a growing city.

“We simply can’t stand still and accept the status quo any longer – the decisions made today [16 May] will allow us to move forward with a range of measures which, interlinked, will serve the best interests of the Capital’s residents, protecting public health, encouraging economic growth and conserving our beautiful, historic city for generations to come.

“We know from our own, extensive consultation that people want to see radical changes made to the way we use our city and through ECCT we want to do just that. This strategic approach, in close alignment with our ambitious LEZ proposals, will not only impact on quality of life, but will equip us to deal with the challenges facing the city, from population growth, air pollution and the fast-paced tempo of modern life.”

Speaking in support of plans for Edinburgh City Centre Transformation, cabinet secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson said: “This is a pivotal moment for the City of Edinburgh, which responds to the real desire that residents have to improve public places and prioritise movement through walking, cycling and public transport.

“The range of interventions considered, including a low emission zone, will protect public health and encourage sustainable economic growth. At the same time, it responds to future challenges regarding capacity while promoting a cleaner, safer and more accessible transport system.

“This action is timely as Transport Scotland takes forward a nationwide assessment of transport requirements with work on an updated National Transport Strategy and the second Strategic Transport Projects Review underway.

“Many of the studies which underpin the transformation programme have been funded by the Scottish Government. We will continue to support these shared ambitions through our funding for active travel and through the development of guidance and regulations for Scotland’s Low Emission Zones.”

The council’s ambitious plans have received backing from a range of organisations.

National director of Sustrans Scotland, John Lauder said: “We welcome the vision that the City of Edinburgh Council has shown with the City Centre Transformation; adapting a historic city to ensure that residents and visitors have easy access on foot, by bike and by wheel. We are glad that Edinburgh is not shying away from the challenge of creating a more welcoming and equitable environment for everyone.”

The Edinburgh City Centre Transformation project has received funding from the Scottish Government through Sustrans Scotland’s Places for Everyone programme.

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