Edinburgh Sheriffhall roundabout: Scottish Government ready to announce decision on future of project

Inquiry into Sheriffhall flyover proposal has reported findings to ministers
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Scottish ministers are set to issue a decision on the planned £120 million upgrade of Edinburgh’s Sheriffhall Roundabout.

An inquiry held after over 2,500 objections were made in response to the proposed flyover has now reported its findings to the Scottish Government. An announcement on whether the project will progress in its current form will be made “in due course”.

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The regularly-congested six-way roundabout is the only junction on the Edinburgh City Bypass where motorway traffic is not separated from local traffic, leading to bottlenecks. Transport chiefs say grade-separation will cut peak journey times on the A720 and deliver active travel improvements at Sheriffhall.

A decision on whether the Sheriffhall plans should go ahead in their current form is due to be announced 'in due course'A decision on whether the Sheriffhall plans should go ahead in their current form is due to be announced 'in due course'
A decision on whether the Sheriffhall plans should go ahead in their current form is due to be announced 'in due course'

But critics say it will turn the busy roundabout into a “spaghetti junction” and warn it will cost at least £80m more than has been budgeted. Last year climate campaigners launched a bid to get the Scottish Government-funded scheme scrapped.

The Sheriffhall Overarching Objectors (ShOO) argue it would “generate more traffic and contradicts Transport Scotland’s goal to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in car kilometres by 2030”. Construction would “involve immense carbon emissions, primarily through the consumption of diesel oil, concrete and steel, when immediate reductions in emissions are essential to avoid catastrophic climate change,” they say.

The group got the Scottish Government to hold a Public Local Inquiry (PLI) earlier this year, following 2,771 objections to the scheme’s draft orders. The group raised £5,325 to pay for “a legal team to advise and cross-examine Transport Scotland’s tired evidence,” according to a fundraising page. An update to the page said ShOO were “landing punches” during the inquiry held in February. It added: “This could be landmark.”

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A “high proportion” of the objections which sparked the hearing were submitted through the the Scottish Green Party website, according to Transport Scotland. The Greens have called for the cash to be spent on more segregated cycle paths and bus lanes across the region instead.

Lothan Green MSP Alison Johnstone, now Presiding Officer o the Scottish Parliament, previously said the “proposal to turn Sheriffhall roundabout into a spaghetti junction” would not be an upgrade but “a step backwards”.

A report to this week’s meeting of the Joint Committee for the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal – which funds the project – said during the inquiry Transport Scotland “presented extensive evidence regarding the national, regional and local policy context and justification for the proposed scheme”.

It said the overhaul is “included within a number of local authority planning strategies” and is needed to “address issues on a key route in the region”. It added: “Following a period of consideration of all the evidence presented and heard during the Inquiry, the reporter submitted their report to the Scottish Government on 10 October 2023.

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“This report is now under active consideration before a decision is made on whether or not to proceed to complete the statutory process for the proposed Scheme as promoted.”

The Committee, made up of councillors from the region’s six local authorities, will discuss the report on Friday, December 1.

An update on the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals decision website said: “A report for this case has been submitted to Scottish Ministers. A decision by Scottish Ministers will be made in due course.”