Councillors ‘not told’ of mines on housing land

Campaigner, Chris Berry  says the proposed development at Brunstane Farm is unsafe. Picture: Neil Hanna

Campaigner, Chris Berry says the proposed development at Brunstane Farm is unsafe. Picture: Neil Hanna

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A GROUP of senior politicians has attacked the city’s housing masterplan amid claims crucial information on the hazardous presence of coal mines was not supplied to councillors before they approved it.

In an official letter, Labour councillors Maureen Child and David Walker, together with Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone, have called on Scottish Government officials to reconsider Brunstane Farmland’s inclusion in Edinburgh’s Local Development Plan (ELDP).

And they warned that crucial information on coal and mine hazards had been omitted from the environmental assessment and ELDP report that was backed by councillors in May.

The call comes after local campaigners said they had obtained information confirming that the Brunstane site contains “substantial coal reserves” and mine shafts.

They said these sites meant the planned development area was “geologically unstable”.

And they stressed that, unlike the former Craighall colliery which had very deep shafts, the “near surface” coal reserves at Brunstane were particularly dangerous.

Leakage of toxic substances such as mine water, methane and carbon monoxide would also be among risks triggered by development, they said.

The politicians’ letter states: “As elected representatives for the Scottish Parliamentary constituency and council ward covering Brunstane, Edinburgh, we are writing to you to flag serious omissions of information from the Second Edinburgh Local Development Plan (ELDP2), which potentially brings into question the plan’s viability – and potentially its legality – on grounds of environmental protection and public safety.

“The proposed development of the Brunstane Farmland site has already attracted substantial local opposition – including 1000 signatures to an online petition – but we believe that the additional significant information on mining-related issues that has come to light since Edinburgh council approved the ELDP2 raises further questions about the viability and desirability of developing this land.”

Campaigners said Brunstane should be removed from the housing masterplan.

Chris Berry, a member of Save Brunstane Greenbelt, said: “People here have always thought that developing the area was inappropriate because there isn’t the infrastructure to support it.

“But the fact that the site potentially has a number of environmental and health and safety hazards means it should be dropped from the plan forthwith.

“We simply cannot understand why the council did not take the information on mining issues into account when drawing up the plan.”

City council bosses said the ELDP had been approved and submitted in the proper way.

A spokeswoman said: “The submission to ministers included a request to hold an examination to deal with objections to the plan, including those relating to the housing proposal in Brunstane.

“The reporter can request further information from the council, however it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com