Edinburgh 'consolidation centres' could cut number of delivery vans on the road

New centres at Leith and Hermiston Gait are being considered

Edinburgh Council is considering setting up “consolidation centres” in a bid to cut deliveries into the city centre – with plans to use the trams and even barges on the Union Canal to transport freight into the Capital.

The facilities, which act as depots to sort multiple businesses’ goods into one vehicle for the final leg of their journey, have been set up in cities across Europe in a bid to tackle congestion. Edinburgh transport convener Scott Arthur said officials were now investigating the feasibility of creating two centres in Edinburgh. He said: “If it’s self-financing and companies engage with it we’ll absolutely do it. We’re looking at there being a consolidation centre in Leith in the port area and also Hermiston Gait.”

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Cllr Arthur said quite lot of delivery vans had “very little inside them”. “So we’re looking at places where these companies can come together, put all their deliveries in one vehicle and that vehicle does the deliveries. You might have a company that’s expecting deliveries from three or four different suppliers on one day, and if they’re all intercepted at the Hermiston Gait depot, they can all go into one vehicle and then out to multiple companies. It’s about taking vehicles off the road and doing things a bit differently.”

The council is considering establishing consolidation centres at Leith and Hermiston Gait where deliveries from different courier companies could be sorted. Picture: Getty Images.

And the new scheme may not be limited to loading the freight on to other vans, as the transport chief revealed consideration is being given to making use of Edinburgh’s waterways and tramlines too. “We’re also looking at using train to bring more freight into the city and also the tram to bring freight into the city perhaps from the airport,” Cllr Arthur said, adding the tram would most likely be used to transport “higher value items”.

He continued: “Having the terminal at Hermiston Gait, as well as giving that connection to the tram as well as the train, also connects to the canal so we’re also looking at options of using the Union Canal to bring things in.” Plans for distribution hubs are still in the early stages and it’s not known if the council would run them itself or bring in contractors. An update will be given to members of the transport committee on Thursday.