BACKGROUND ISSUES, PRESSURES AND CONSTRAINTS
WEST EDINBURGH - A NATIONAL ASSET
15 The West Edinburgh Planning Framework 2006 is informed by a number of other work streams.
A number of technical issues arising are outlined below, and have been reconciled in this update of the West Edinburgh Planning Framework. A summary of the supporting documents 2 is provided in the Annexes to this document.
Economic and Property Market Update
16 The economy of Edinburgh and the Lothians is expected to generate demand for around 550,000 sq. m. of new additional floorspace for business (Class 4) uses through to 2015. Outstanding planning permissions at Edinburgh Park and Newbridge alone have a capacity of approximately 375,000 sq. m. Total office development potential in Edinburgh as a whole is estimated at approximately 1,228,000 sq. m., including locations such as the City Centre, Waterfront and Leith. There is additional potential from relocation, redevelopment and conversion. These are therefore regarded as having potential to provide more than an adequate supply of land for identified demand for economic development in Edinburgh and the Lothians to 2015 at least. There will be issues over its location, quality and commercial viability but even after 2015, a recent study of economic and property market issues in West Edinburgh ( summarised at Annex 1) confirms that there is no need to identify sites on Green Belt land in West Edinburgh to meet forecast demand for general Class 4 business use.
17 It therefore appears that any significant release of Green Belt land for general Class 4 development in West Edinburgh would be at the expense of Structure Plan core development areas and would largely displace jobs from elsewhere. This would result in partially developed areas of already allocated land which are unable to reach critical mass for the provision of high quality public transport or the delivery of wider development plan strategy or policy objectives such as urban regeneration. This suggests that the economic development opportunity that exists in the area should be dedicated to niche markets defined by policy.
18 The West Edinburgh Planning Framework suggested that internationally competitive development for corporate headquarters could be a niche market for West Edinburgh. The market review concludes that European headquarters and shared service centres can be mobile in an international sense, although global headquarters are not internationally mobile; West Edinburgh could be competitive in this market but not unique; but Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise interest in the concept in West Edinburgh could raise its profile. Given the reserve of current Green Belt land around the Airport with excellent European and Scottish connectivity, West Edinburgh Planning Framework 2006 can provide the policy context to capitalise on this opportunity, reallocate land for international business development, and provide the context for public and private sector partners putting in the necessary advance infrastructure to produce an effective land supply for marketing.
BAA Edinburgh Airport Master Plan
19 Edinburgh Airport is experiencing rapid year-on-year passenger growth. Much of this is fuelled by low cost operators, and current forecasting suggests that increased fuel costs and environmental measures such as extension of carbon emissions trading to the aviation sector will continue to be offset by disposable income and propensity to fly. The 2003 White Paper suggests that passenger numbers could grow from 7 million per annum in 2004 to between 19 million and 26 million by 2030. Such passenger figures would support more direct flights to a greater range of destinations than exists at present and increase both competitive business links and inbound tourist traffic.
20 In line with the Air Transport White Paper policy, Edinburgh Airport Master Plan (July 2006) details how the Airport will develop between now and 2030. A summary is at Annex 2. The Master Plan proposes expansion of terminal, aircraft stance and taxiway provision to the south west of the current terminal. This requires land occupied by the 120 hectare Royal Highland Centre. Between 2013 and 2020 the Airport will require 34 hectares, with a further 51 hectares required between 2020 and 2030. The White Paper indicated that by 2013 the Royal Highland Centre would require to be relocated, as it could not remain a viable entity on that part of its present site not required by Edinburgh Airport Limited. At some point after 2020, it is likely that a second main parallel runway will need to be built north of the current main runway, requiring 280 hectares of land. From 2020 until the second main runway is operational, the existing crosswind runway will be increasingly used for take-offs, but once the second main runway is opened, the crosswind runway will be closed to airborne traffic. The White Paper proposed that the south-east section of it could then be surplus to airport operational purposes, though the Edinburgh Airport Master Plan retains the land to enable aircraft to manoeuvre to maintenance hangars, the south east terminal remote stands, and the cargo area.
21 As the Airport grows from 8.6 million passengers per annum in 2005-06 to up to 26 million passengers in 2030, the tram and rail links are forecast to increase the public transport share of surface access to the airport from about 20% currently with bus to 44% in 2021. While that is a significant contribution to sustainable transport access, it still means that car access will grow on a person-trip basis by around 100% by 2030. One of the issues to be addressed by the West Edinburgh Planning Framework 2006 is therefore how to plan for double the number of cars seeking to access the Airport, given the congestion on the current road network. The National Transport Strategy contains policy interventions to further reduce the rate of growth in car use.
22 The Edinburgh Airport Master Plan provides an indication of the likely development required to accommodate the growth anticipated by the White Paper. This growth is dependent on continuing trends in demand for air travel, which are themselves influenced by a number of potentially volatile factors. Edinburgh Airport currently enjoys the benefit of permitted development rights for operational development within its operational land, subject to prior notification to City of Edinburgh Council. Exceptions to these rights include new or extended runways and any development requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment.
23 The Edinburgh Airport Master Plan envisages expansion beyond the current land ownership, and at that point a full planning application will be required for operational airport use of the proposed expanded area. The area for which any planning permission is granted would also enjoy permitted development rights unless these were withdrawn by the Scottish Ministers or by City of Edinburgh Council as part of the process of granting consent for the expansion. That may be done to ensure high standards of development, to control car parking or other access arrangements, or for other justified planning purposes.
24 Since the estimates of air passenger numbers at Edinburgh Airport were produced for the Air Transport White Paper in 2003, the Scottish Executive has published its Sustainable Development Strategy Choosing Our Future, and has revised its Climate Change Programme. Underlying both of these is the need to create increasing economic prosperity within sustainable environmental limits. The UK Government has also adopted similar policies. A key ambition is to reduce the levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Air travel contributes a significant amount of total emissions and its contribution is increasing at a fast rate. It will therefore be appropriate to take account of sustainable development and climate change policies when air passenger forecasts at Edinburgh and other Scottish airports are next calculated. If appropriate, that may lead in turn to the need to review the West Edinburgh Planning Framework to reflect any changes in the air passenger forecasts.
Royal Highland Centre Relocation
25 A site search exercise was undertaken in the areas of City of Edinburgh Council and West Lothian Council, informed by criteria from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. This exercise identified and ranked potential sites and the top ranked site proved acceptable in principle for a further more detailed feasibility study to be undertaken.
26 The detailed feasibility study, summarised at Annex 3, has demonstrated that the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland can be accommodated on land to the south of the A8 on a modernised like-for-like basis. The study has further demonstrated that the land provides sufficient space to create a more efficient operation of services for the Society and provide room for their enhancement.
27 An issue with the site however is its relationship to possible options for a link road from the M8 motorway east of Claylands to Edinburgh Airport. There are a range of options for such a link, but all of the options save for an easternmost link would have serious implications for the integrity of the site and its access arrangements. It is doubtful if the easternmost option could be built in any case given constraints in its corridor arising from the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link alignment, the Ingliston Park and Ride site and its projected extension, and the tram line alignment. All options would, because of the need for a junction with the M8, for bridging over the railway and the A8, and in the prevailing terrain require the road to be elevated on bridges and embankments. This is likely to be an expensive solution, to have serious effects on land severance and to be environmentally intrusive. There is also an operational issue in respect of fitting in junctions on the M8 with sufficient weaving distance between Claylands and Hermiston.
28 Access to the new National Showground site will be from the south side of the Airport dumbbell junction in the east; from a new junction in the vicinity of Hallyards Road junction with the A8 in the west (this junction will also access any new western link road to the Airport); and for lorry and animal float servicing from a southerly access off Freelands Road.
Transport Appraisal and Land Use Transport Modelling
29 A study using a slightly modified version of the Transport Model for Scotland tested existing transport infrastructure against the demands of existing development, the growth forecast in the Edinburgh and Lothians Structure Plan 2015 and development proposals in the Edinburgh Airport Master Plan. Testing of the role and timing of EARL, Trams for Edinburgh Phase 1A, and road infrastructure improvements enabled judgements to be made about network capacity and the ability for it to accommodate additional development.
30 West Edinburgh currently generates large travel demands from commuters, people travelling through the area to and from Edinburgh and locations to the north and west, Airport users and other activities. Public transport serves parts of the area, but is primarily bus based, and subject to traffic congestion. The road network is either at or near maximum operating capacity. Without policy interventions the number of vehicle kilometres on the West Edinburgh road network (combined peaks) is set to increase by 10% between 2006 and 2011 as a result of already committed development and current airport growth. This will lead to a growth in congestion from 2006 to 2011 of 111%. As a result of that growth continuing to 2021, vehicle kilometres grow by a further 7% and congestion by a further 56%. The model compares the effects of the policy interventions proposed in the draft West Edinburgh Planning Framework 2006 to the base situation in 2021 arising from existing and committed development.
31 The model concludes that in comparison with the 2021 base case, the Tram Phase 1A and EARL with the Gogar Link Road to the Airport can together reduce congestion in West Edinburgh by 15%. Adding a link from the Airport to the M8 would only reduce congestion by a further 1%. However, the addition of two developments of the equivalent size of the Royal Bank of Scotland at Gogarburn, with tram, EARL and Gogar Link Road increases congestion by 22%, while with the Gogar Link Road alone, it increases congestion by 32%. Adding mode share constraints to new development allocations to require 45% public transport access, and with tram, EARL and Gogar Link Road, reduces the effect to a 6% increase in congestion. It can therefore be deduced that if new business development could replicate the reported Royal Bank of Scotland mode share, congestion would be increased by only 2%. So new development need not add significantly to congestion if carefully managed. Further detail is given in Annex 4.
Sustainable Development Framework for the Gogar Burn Catchment
32 The Gogar Burn Partnership was initiated by SEPA with the aim of developing strategic environmental solutions to the Gogar Burn on a catchment basis to improve and enhance the water environment in terms of flood risk, water quality and ecology. A Sustainable Development Framework was commissioned by the Group to identify environmental solutions for the lower catchment (north of the Union Canal) that will also allow for the continuing development of the area.
33 The Gogar Burn Partnership Group project has identified 10 improvement components in the Gogar Burn water catchment, and has assessed these with the objective of creating a Sustainable Development Framework for the Gogar Burn. A more detailed feasibility study of these components is being undertaken to assess the most suitable combination of solutions. It is expected that these solutions could not only have benefits for the water environment of the Gogar Burn, but would also benefit the construction of EARL, Airport expansion and development of other key sites.
Strategic Environmental Assessment
34 A Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) has been undertaken to inform the West Edinburgh Planning Framework 2006 and deals more fully with the environment of West Edinburgh and with the forecast impacts of different strategy options. It does not seek to address direct environmental impacts of the 2003 Air Transport White Paper. It does, however, consider the elements of the Airport development over which the West Edinburgh Planning Framework 2006 has influence, including the surface access strategy for the Airport, and will make recommendations for the final West Edinburgh Planning Framework 2006 in light of the environmental considerations and responses to consultation on these. Reference should be made to the draft Environmental Report. A summary is at Annex 6.
Environmental Noise Directive
35 The European Directive 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise (The Environmental Noise Directive) was transposed into Scottish Regulations in 2006. This directive concerns noise from road, rail and air traffic and within large urban areas including Edinburgh, from industry, including ports. It focuses on the impact of such noise on individuals, complementing existing EU legislation which sets standards for noise emissions from specific sources. Edinburgh and Edinburgh Airport are included within the first round of noise mapping and action planning. Maps must be produced by 30 June 2007, with the action plans following a year later in 2008. During the second round (2012-13) all agglomerations, major roads, major railways and major airports as defined by The Environmental Noise Directive will be mapped and then action plans will be developed for them. With major developments foreseen at Edinburgh Airport and also in West Edinburgh itself there may be a need for extra mapping and action planning beyond the normal 5-yearly cycle required by the Directive.