Airport suitors told to drive forward access road revamp

The approach to Edinburgh Airport
The approach to Edinburgh Airport
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POTENTIAL buyers of Edinburgh Airport have been warned that they will have to find the money to improve the roads leading to the terminal.

The city council is to compile its own sales “prospectus” that it hopes to provide to interested groups to summarise its views on a range of issues, including public transport, roads and planning issues.

Council leader Jenny Dawe wants any new owner to help pay for essential upgrades to the roads system around the airport, which she said is currently “not what you expect of an international airport”.

Her comments come after widespread criticism of current owner BAA’s introduction of the £1 “kiss and fly” charge that came without council backing and with no firm commitment on how the income would be used.

An emergency motion lodged by Councillor Dawe for Thursday’s meeting of the full council calls on chief executive Sue Bruce to work with “a range of stakeholders” on a “supplementary prospectus for the sale” on behalf of the council.

The document would outline the views of the city on “matters of interest and concern, such as sustainable economic development, permitted development rights and public transport issues”.

Cllr Dawe said: “It gives us an opportunity to look at what we would hope that any new owner would take into account – things like ensuring it continues to thrive, look at new routes and continue to make an impact on the economy of the city.

“With the decision taken that Edinburgh Airport is to be sold, it is important that the council has as much influence as it can on the [sale] schedule before it is looked at by interested parties.”

BAA is the only organisation in Edinburgh that has “permitted development” rights, meaning that it does not need planning consent before carrying out development on its grounds.

That also means that the council cannot force it to sign up to the “section 75” legal agreements that every other developer has to agree to that would tie it to commitments on contributions to roads upgrades or public transport improvements.

The former Scottish Executive pledged in 2005 to review permitted development rights and a consultation paper is expected on the issue.

Cllr Dawe said: “It is all to do with the relationship of the airport to the transport strategy of the council and it is just to make sure that interested parties are aware of their role.

“A great deal has been done to make the airport itself better and a lot of investment has happened within the airport’s ‘walls’, but I know there are huge issues about access roads to the airport.

“I’m sure that will be eased once there is a tram, but I think anybody that goes out there by road knows that it is not what you expect of an international airport and we want to make sure that the number of arrivals and departures are accounted for.”

An airport spokesman said: “We welcome the invitation to meet with council officials to discuss the sale process and any input they wish to have in it. It is important that we all focus on ensuring that the airport continues to play a key role in the future development of the Capital.”