Edinburgh Council conference delegation will now catch train to France following environmental fears of flights

The five-strong delegation will now get the train to Cannes amid carbon concerns after a flight would have needed a stop-off in Budapest

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 7:33 am
Cllr Cammy Day and Cllr Neil Gardiner are going to the MIPIM conference in Cannes

A five-strong city council delegation will now catch a train to a conference in the south of France following environmental fears and an airborne alternative requiring a stop off in Budapest.

Edinburgh City Council’s policy and sustainability committee approved depute leader Cllr Cammy Day, planning convener Cllr Neil Gardiner and three officials jetting off to Cannes for the MIPIM 2020 conference. Councillors approved the delegation flying to the event, which takes place in March, despite fears being raised over the environmental impact the choice of travel will have.

The council last year declared a climate emergency, as well as pledging to transform Edinburgh into a carbon neutral city by 2030. The authority has tabled plans to encourage more people to take more sustainable methods of transport in its city mobility plan.

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Officials estimated that flying five people to the south of France and back would cost almost 2,500 kg of carbon – but told opposition councillors who raised concerns, that “comfort” of those taking part in the trip had to be taken into account.

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Green Cllr Melanie Main called on Cllr Day to “lead by example” amid accusations the authority talks about tackling climate change, but takes little action to address it. Cllr Gardiner was the only member of the delegation who publicly said he was willing to investigate taking the train.

Cllr Gardiner said: “Personally, it’s very important to me to reduce emissions where I can and taking a train over plane to MIPIM has always been my intention. I’m very pleased others are also following suit.”

Cllr Gillian Gloyer, who first raised the concerns, is pleased that some carbon will be saved by the u-turn.

She said: “There just seemed to be no flexibility, with the possible exception of of the planning convener.

“I’m delighted they have found that flying is less convenient than the train. You can work on the train, you can take phone calls and have meetings – there’s all sorts of things you can do which you can’t on a plane.

“Most people understand that you can’t expect people to take the plane to Beijing but getting to the south of France really is pretty easy. It’s a pity they are still flying back, but at least we have saved a bit of carbon.”

Cllr Day said: “I don’t really mind how we get there as long as we can make the most of the event.

“The flight out was going to mean quite a hangover in Budpest so officials have looked at the trains and it wasn’t going to take much longer to go by train. It means I can get on with work on the way and I don’t like all the going through security at airports – so I’m quite happy with what is arranged. I’m looking forward to the conference which is really important to the city’s economy.”

A council spokesperson added: “The council is one of many city partners working together to attract strategic development and jobs growth in Edinburgh and events like MIPIM are key for forging partnerships with international investors, which have in previous years led to landmark developments like New Waverley.

“Following last week’s committee meeting, members have elected to travel by train to the conference in March. This is the most sustainable mode of transport available from Edinburgh to Cannes and final travel arrangements are being made.”