Covering M8 motorway included in £30 billion plan to make Glasgow 'greener'

Multi-billion proposals, including covering over a section of the M8 motorway, will address Glasgow’s underlying problems with poverty and inequality and make the city environmentally-friendly.

Those are the hopes of Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken, who talked about her “revolutionary plans” to transform the city – which will play host in November to the UN climate summit, COP26, reports The Herald on Sunday.

The ambitious proposals include covering over the M8 at Charing Cross, while the council is also looking to retro-fit 450,000 homes for energy efficiency across Glasgow at a cost of around £10 billion.

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Councillor Aitken said: “We can apply it to 70,000 tenements across the city. It can be done”.

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken is looking to make Glagow a greener cityGlasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken is looking to make Glagow a greener city
Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken is looking to make Glagow a greener city

The city will also explore the possibility of using the River Clyde to generate energy.

The council leader said: “We want to really exploit the Clyde’s renewable energy potential. The most important thing we can do with our river is heat. We think we can heat half the city. Certainly, the estimation is that around 50 per cent of the city could be sourced by the Clyde.

“One of the big-scale interventions needed is to get the city to net zero – domestic heat is massively important for that. We need to get the city onto renewable heat sources.”

The council is currently working with Strathclyde University on the science to make this a reality.

As well as becoming a source of energy, Councillor Aitken wants the Clyde to rival the River Seine or the River Thames and become a vibrant, bustling waterway which creates jobs.

She said: “One of the things that’s holding back that potential is that within 150 metres of either side of its banks we’ve significant amounts of vacant and derelict land. Many of these vacant lots are in areas of deprivation. That’s not coincidental.”

Around £60 million is being spent to fix quay walls a tidal barrier is also needed as the climate threat intensifies.

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Transport is an important part of the plan, which seeks to create a new metro system of trams, rapid transit buses and light rail – connecting all parts of a city where outlining areas have often been forgotten.

Councillor Aitken said: “The lack of connectivity reinforces inequality. It cuts people off from economic opportunities. There are places which aren’t accessible by public transport, only car, and this in a city which has the lowest car ownership in the UK.”

The council leader said she wanted to create more “car-free zones”.

To this end, she plans to “put a cap over the M8”, essentially putting the stretch of the motorway at Charring Cross underground so a new public space can be created – reconnecting the Mitchell Library and Anderston with Charing Cross, enabling pedestrians to walk the route.

The plan will also address Glasgow’s “historically bad recycling rates”.

“We throw far too much stuff out,” Councillor Aitken said. “We need to change that. There’s some difficult messages there. It’s not your human right to chuck whatever you want in your green bin.”

She hopes younger people “tell their elders they need to change their attitude”.

Asked when the city will see real progress on her plans, Councillor Aitken said: “When we can resource it – which we hope could be sooner rather than later.”

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