Edinburgh gas explosion: Six months on, Baberton Mains Avenue families 'still living in limbo'

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Families affected by a fatal gas explosion in Edinburgh are still living in limbo nearly six months after the blast.

The explosion in Baberton Mains Avenue on December 1 last year destroyed two houses and damaged others, claiming the life of James Smith, 84, while two other people were taken to hospital.

Lothian Conservative MSP Sue Webber at the site of the Baberton Mains Avenue gas explosionLothian Conservative MSP Sue Webber at the site of the Baberton Mains Avenue gas explosion
Lothian Conservative MSP Sue Webber at the site of the Baberton Mains Avenue gas explosion | Supplied

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The blast site is still fenced off and lies untouched, with residents’ belongings in the homes destroyed by the explosion still clearly visible. Debris can still be seen hanging from the buildings.

And Lothian Conservative MSP Sue Webber says residents caught up in the tragedy are being let down by inaction from the city council.

She said: “Six months after this awful tragedy, it’s unacceptable that affected residents can’t get back to some semblance of normality. There may be issues with buildings insurance, but that’s no excuse for keeping them in the dark when it comes to the future of their own homes.

“The houses look like they are about to collapse. Even to the untrained eye the remaining buildings are in a structurally unstable condition, with debris falling off and signs of imminent collapse.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She said of the four affected families she met recently, two are still living in the street but two are in rented accommodation because of issues with repairs. Those still living there are getting no council tax reduction.

Ms Webber said: “They are living in limbo, and those families still living in the street have a daily reminder of this tragedy. They can even see personal belongings amongst the ruins of one home that belonged to their friend and neighbour who tragically died.

“Those who have been forced to move out are still being chased by energy companies for standing charges in the homes they can’t live in.”

She said when she contacted the council in March, she was told the building control department would be issuing Dangerous Buildings Notices, but little had changed in the past two months.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ms Webber said: “It’s disgraceful that there has been no real progress for at least two months, and someone needs to bang heads together to sort this out. We’re not even at the stage where people might have to argue about cost and liability, but it’s people’s lives we’re dealing with and there should be a far greater sense of urgency to find a solution.”

Council planning convener James Dalgleish said: “We’ve been providing full support to residents since they were evacuated from their homes and appreciate how difficult it is for everyone involved.

“We have agreed with the owners’ insurers that they will share the findings of their structural investigations, which are ongoing, with our building standards team.  Building standards can then issue dangerous buildings notices where required, outlining the measures needed to make the buildings, and surrounding area, safe. This could involve demolition for some properties, or repair in others.

“I should also point out that these notices can only be lifted once the minimum conditions have been met. It will then be up to the owners and their insurers as to how they proceed.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.