Leader: 'It's hard to argue against the principle'

one of the great pleasures of life in the Lothians is enjoying all the beautiful countryside and coastline right on our doorstep.

So it is no doubt with heavy hearts that council chiefs are considering introducing a parking charge for visitors to the Pentlands.

But with public spending under such scrutiny it was perhaps inevitable that attention would turn sooner or later to the 380,000 annual cost to council taxpayers of running the park.

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The proposed 2 charge will not be popular and could create problems of its own.

It is bound, to some extent, to discourage people either from visiting the hills in the first place or from using the car parks when they do go.

Most hillwalkers are responsible people, but would some park in farm gateways and other places where they would cause a nuisance in order to avoid the cost?

And is it fair that a local dog owner who visits the Pentlands more than once a day would face a bill of more than 1000 a year?

A discounted annual permit for regular visitors could overcome the latter problem, while the impact of any charge that might be introduced would clearly have to be properly monitored.

But it is hard to argue against the general principle of a parking charge. The National Trust, for instance, already levies one on visitors to the nearby Newhailes and other sites in order to help cover its costs.

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Especially at a time when essential services are facing stringent cuts, the principle that the user pays seems like the fairest one.

Decision is plane

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary's impatience to see the future of Edinburgh Airport sorted one way or another is totally understandable.

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Owner BAA has every right to appeal against the Competition Commission ruling that it must sell off either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport.

The apparent dilemma of which to give up looks increasingly like a no-brainer given the great success and superior prospects for growth in the Capital.

But the worst thing for Edinburgh may be the months of delay which any legal challenge would inevitably create.

After several months of record-breaking passenger numbers, Edinburgh is currently one of the fastest growing airports in the UK.

Right now months of uncertainty over its future can only hold it back.