‘We need hard facts and a clear strategy’

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TODAY is not the first time we have been told Auld Reekie is living up to its name when it comes to pollution.

New monitoring figures on the level of nitrogen dioxide in the air sound very worrying, as does the threat of a big fine from the EU if we don’t clean up our act.

But is it enough to make us change our daily habits or convince businesses to invest in greener alternatives?

The truth is that many will view these reports and the green lobby with suspicion, not helped by baffling scientific data or the fact that it has been used in the past to 
justify controversial and unpopular schemes such as the ill-fated congestion charge.

What we need are simple, hard facts and a clear strategy for tackling what is undeniably a problem facing the city.

The new monitoring stations announced today will hopefully help give a clearer picture of just how big a problem this will be, not just for us but for future generations.

And while the idea of low emission zones banning polluting lorries and vans from certain areas will not be popular with everyone, tough measures such as this may well prove necessary.

Both the general public and businesses will need to be convinced of the need for such a move – to prevent the impression that it is simply an extra revenue stream for the city council or congestion charging by the back door.

Talk of CCTV cameras and an automatic number plate recognition system to enforce the system along with the threat of heavy fines all sound a bit familiar and will sound immediate alarm bells.

But what is clear is that doing nothing is not an option.

The Capital was branded Auld Reekie for a reason. Let’s keep the nickname and ditch the reek.

Like it and lump it

School bullies beware – one of your traditional revenue streams is about to dry up. No longer will children be able to claim they have lost – by force or otherwise – their lunch money.

Edinburgh’s schools are going hi-tech with online advance payments for the canteen. The system also lets parents choose what their child has from the menu – a move which seems certain to create a craze of lunch-swapping.

Technology, alas, cannot solve everything. Advance payment may cut the queues which meant your dinner was stone cold by the time you sat down. There is currently no web application, however, which allows you to remove the lumps from custard.