Edinburgh Airport: Scottish Government blocks plans for new access road
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The proposed 3km stretch of road, designed to ease congestion and provide an alternative to the busy Eastfield Road, currently the only road into the airport, was refused permission by the council in 2021. The decision was appealed, but now ministers have confirmed the refusal, saying it conflicts with the development plan for the area.
However, talks are now expected to take place, involving the airport and the council, to search for a way to allow a new road to be built amid warnings the situation cannot be left as it is. Passenger numbers are growing and are forecast to recover to pre-Covid levels by the end of the year. The airport is predicted to have 15 million passengers in 2023 and 7,000 people work there every day.
A new access road would reduce congestion on Eastfield Road, which used to see frequent traffic jams, and also provide an alternative route to the airport’s cargo area, allowing heavy goods traffic to be removed from Turnhouse Road, where new homes and a new primary school are to be built.
Refusing the proposal, the government noted the new road would offer “a deliverable solution to an existing problem of road access” to the airport and could do so “with no significant adverse environmental effects and a number of positive significant effects on noise and air quality”. But it said the proposal was contrary to the development plan for the area and the cumulative traffic and transport implications could not be fully assessed.
Lib Dem councillor Kevin Lang, whose Almond ward covers the airport, said he thought the proposal was sensible and it had been rejected for technical planning reasons. But he said the development on Turnhouse Road meant something had to happen quickly. “Clearly doing nothing is not an option because the current cargo access road is going to be a new housing estate with a new primary school and it would be unacceptable for HGVs and all the cargo traffic to be going through a new residential community and past a primary school.
"Something has to be done, we can’t allow the current situation to continue and we need a solution fast on this because the houses are already being built and the new school could open as early as the end of next year. There were lots of good sound arguments for there being a new access road from the airport and among them was taking all the cargo traffic away from Turnhouse Road.
“I appreciate this specific proposal has been turned down, but that cannot mean we do nothing. What now has to happen is we need to get the airport, the council and other interested parties together urgently to find a workable solution.”
A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said they were encouraged that ministers agreed that a new road and active travel route would help solve existing issues. “Since we applied to build this enabling route, much collaborative work has been done in this area between ourselves, our neighbours and the city council. Many communities, industries, partners and other groups have a keen interest in working with us to collectively develop the best solution for West Edinburgh.
"There is a shared belief that Edinburgh Airport’s internal connectivity to communities across Scotland is as important as its international connectivity across the globe. We currently have around 42 per cent of passengers travelling to and from the terminal on public transport and we want to grow that. However we can't ignore the need for a new road and active travel route to go alongside this. We know from our own data that this year we will welcome people and vehicles from every postcode in Scotland so it's now more important than ever to ensure we have greater contingency and ease of access to the airport.
"We remain committed to building the road and will continue to work with the council and our partners to create and deliver infrastructure that delivers easier connections for our communities and visitors, as well as meeting our shared sustainability objectives.”
Transport convener Scott Arthur indicated he was ready for talks on a road. He said: “Edinburgh Airport is one of our capital's biggest employers, and west Edinburgh will be the focus of significant investment from developers in the coming years. Edinburgh’s Labour administration is therefore committed to working with Edinburgh Airport to improve sustainable transport options in the area for everyone. The status quo is not an option.”