BUILDING on green belt land will always be controversial – and for that we all should be grateful.
No-one wants to see beautiful fields concreted over for no good reason, and unless we as a society are vigilant that is always a risk.
In the Capital, we are lucky to still have plenty of attractive open space, despite the huge amount of development that has gone on over the past couple of decades. But we must not take that for granted and assume that it will always be the case.
Yet, at the same time, we run a risk of developing a knee-jerk reaction which assumes that any kind of building on any part of the green belt has to be a bad thing. Such tunnel vision can be damaging for local communities whose needs and wishes change over time.
The ongoing battle over plans to build a new high school on Portobello Park, which is currently protected from development, although not green belt land, is a case in point.
The plan to build homes on the Edmonstone estate near the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary seems to be another.
The benefits of building are clear: some much-needed affordable housing, immediate construction jobs and a £600,000 investment in preparing local young people for work. The downside of building on what is a relatively little used strip of land which has previously been seen as suitable for development are less obvious.
Green belt protection should never lightly be cast aside, but all cases should be viewed on their own merits, and this one certainly demands very careful consideration before any decision is taken on what is best for the local community.
Edinburgh scientists are renowned for boldly going where no others have been before.
And today we have just the latest example from Heriot-Watt where a team has been awarded £2.35 million to develop nanotechnology with what seems like a rather risky escapade of mimicking a black hole in their lab.
Assuming the scientists do not get sucked into another dimension, their work will have important implications for advances in things like mobile phone technology.
After a year which has seen the great Peter Higgs honoured for changing the face of physics, this is just another example of how our city is continuing to lead the world. And, of course, creating a black hole has an added bonus – it will be somewhere to chuck the lab’s rubbish when the bin lorry doesn’t turn up.