Call to reject supermarket over pollution fears

The site of the proposed supermarket on the corner of S. John's Road and Manse Road. Picture: Neil Hanna

The site of the proposed supermarket on the corner of S. John's Road and Manse Road. Picture: Neil Hanna

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PRESSURE is growing on councillors to throw out a controversial supermarket proposal after latest pollution figures showed nitrogen dioxide levels soaring.

Waitrose pulled out of plans for a new store in St John’s Road, Corstorphine, earlier this year but developers have resubmitted the application for a 21,000sq ft supermarket and say they are in talks with other chains. The proposal is expected to be discussed by councillors next week.

The Evening News revealed yesterday how nitrogen dioxide concentrations in St John’s Road were now almost double the legal limits. Friends of the Earth branded it the most polluted street in Scotland.

Toni Giugliano, SNP 
candidate for Edinburgh Western at next year’s Holyrood elections, said the supermarket would push up congestion and pollution levels, infringing EU laws even further.

He said: “The city council has spent years trying to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels on St John’s Road – with mixed success. Green-lighting a major supermarket development in the heart of Scotland’s most polluted street would reverse any progress that has been made.

“Frankly it would be a spectacular U-turn for the council and its air quality commitments.”

Air pollution has been linked to asthma attacks, strokes, heart attacks, cancers and children’s lungs not growing to their full potential.

Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “St John’s Road is a road where people live very close to the traffic, so they are being exposed to these levels.

“Schoolchildren would have to walk in front of the proposed car park entrance each day on their way to Corstorphine Primary School, if it were to go ahead.”

The Corstorphine Residents Action and Information Group, which has been campaigning against the store application, say they are not against development on the site, but feel it needs to be appropriate for the location.

And they say the proposal has been plagued by concerns about unrealistic traffic management, the felling of mature trees in a conservation area and its sheer scale.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Edinburgh Western, said the developers had major questions to answer about increased levels of pollution.

“Unless these questions are answered, there is no viable case for this supermarket.”

Waitrose had been planning to open its third branch in the Capital on the corner of St John’s Road and Manse Road to replace empty retail units.

But it abandoned the multi-million-pound proposal in March, blaming “changes in trading conditions”.

Developer Realis Estates, which had been working with Waitrose, made clear it was pressing ahead with the application and was in talks with other supermarket chains.

Today, a spokesman for Realis said: “We have submitted a planning application for a new supermarket in Corstophine along with the necessary supporting documentation, including the findings of our own air quality specialist. Until the application has been determined it would be premature for us to say anything further at this stage.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com