Letters: Edmonstone Estate is a danger in need of fixing

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I was struck by the letter from Lyndsay Martin relating to the proposed development on the ‘Policies’ land of the Edmonstone Estate (News, 28 August).

The picture painted in her letter, however, bears no relation to the facts and we not only want to take this opportunity to set the record straight but would be absolutely delighted to invite her down to have a look at the site.

The ‘Policies’ is heavily undermined and represents a major danger to the public, so much so that the Coal Authority has confirmed that the site is within the Development High Risk Area and is currently fenced off to prevent public access, with signage warning against this.

As the landowner, we are in fact in the process of obtaining planning approval for a 4 metre high fence which will replace that currently in place and make the site even more secure.

There is also severe risk of potential catastrophic ground collapse due to shallow mine-workings and shafts (bell pits), with potentially more than 200 of these across the site.

The cost of remedial works required to stabilise the ground are considerable, estimated at about £10million and housing is required to generate the funding to enable stabilisation of the ground and ensure that it is accessible and safe.

The proposal for up to 368 houses, including 25% affordable housing, will make a key contribution to addressing the estimated 6000 homes shortfall in the housing land supply and it should be noted that the application received not one objection to it through the planning process.

The aspiration by the council’s planners that the site is reserved for only recreational parkland, given the undermining and the £10m cost to bring this into productive use is completely unachievable from a council perspective.

From being a site that is currently inaccessible, permanently derelict and dangerous, development would generate the value required to bring it back into public use, enabling members of the public to enjoy the benefits of the Estate for many years to come.

Mrs P Moore, Sheratan Ltd, c/o Walker Street, Edinburgh

Referendum needs a two-stage vote

On September 18 we will not, as Alex Salmond is arguing, be voting for or against the SNP’s White Paper, their un-costed wish list, we will be deciding in principle whether to stay in or leave the United Kingdom.

The reality is that if we decide to leave we have no idea how independence will look because it all depends on the outcome of negotiations with those representing well over 50 million people.

Having watched the two TV debates I have come to the conclusion that there should have been a two stage referendum. The SNP got less than half the vote at the Holyrood elections and not everyone who voted for them supported independence. So the first stage should simply have asked whether negotiations should now take place.

The second stage would be instigated if there were a majority ‘Yes’ vote in the first and after negotiations had been concluded and a settlement put forward. It would ask Yes or No to independence on the basis of that settlement.

There would have been clarity on what independence means and answers to all the questionsthat are still at this late stage being asked. If it is ‘Yes’ on September 18 will we need another referendum when supporters find that the negotiations don’t deliver what they thought they would get?

Barry Turner, Carberry Close, Musselburgh

New track system could take the trams to Leith cheaply

Without completing the trams to Leith our current tram system and the massive debts the city has to cover from its construction will never be sustainable.

That being said, another £80 million in costs and at least a further year of disruption on Leith Walk does not bear thinking about.

Some have advocated using the new LR55 track system on Leith Walk to reduce the cost and disruption of extending the trams. The issue is that while this type of track has been used successfully on a small section of the Sheffield Super Tram for 14 years, it has never been used on such a large scale as the length of Leith Walk.

As restoration work is going to take place on Leith Walk it might make sense for the council to install a short length of this new track from York Place to a new tram stop at Haddington Place.

If advocates of the LR55 system are correct this stretch of line could be laid in less than a month and at a cost of less than £5 million.

If the line can be laid this cheaply and it is shown to operate properly for a year or more, then it could be laid all the way down Leith Walk to Ocean Terminal for just £30 million.

Given the need to reach Leith to make the tram project a success we have little to lose from such a trial and potentially a lot to gain.

Martin Young, Orchard Brae Gardens, Edinburgh

Are checks in place for postal voting?

Given the recent scandal over rigged postal voting in Tower Hamlets in London I wonder what system of checks and balances is in position in respect of postal voting in the referendum.

Donald Lewis, Beech Hill, Gifford, East Lothian