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Edinburgh City Council and Edinburgh Airport have been locked in a planning battle over the airport’s proposal to construct a new access road between terminal one and the Gogar Roundabout on the A8 dual carriageway.
And despite the airport offering to pay the £21m cost of developing the road – and the council’s own local development plans being supportive of another airport access route – council officials opposed the plan.
They argued that it was in conflict with the local authority’s plans for a Gogar link road – and at a meeting of the council’s development management committee on Wednesday, August 18, councillors voted by seven votes to three to refuse the application.
Following the decision, a spokesman for Edinburgh Airport hit out, calling the officials report ‘flawed’ and saying it was a ‘sad day’ for the city.
They also suggested they were likely to contest the ‘baffling’ decision, saying they had ‘clear grounds of appeal’.
The airport spokesman said: “Councillors have today turned down £21m of investment to build a new access road that delivers key investment actions from their own action programme, meets the requirements of their own policies and kick starts long held plans for the development of west Edinburgh; a proposal that will improve and increase public transport journeys, provide active travel routes that currently do not exist and alleviate the traffic on the existing, creaking infrastructure.
“The rejection, based on a flawed report by officials and supported by councillors who appear to have made their minds up before hearing the evidence, leaves west Edinburgh with no plan to deliver the infrastructure that the council itself has stated is needed.
“We do however thank those councillors that understood the implications for the wider aspirations of west Edinburgh and supported our proposals.
“The convenor [councillor Neil Gardiner] asked for parties to resubmit alternative plans after working together and recognised that the status quo is not acceptable.
“The irony here is that meaningful collaboration with the council has been difficult, which perpetuates the status quo.
“We took the initiative and provided the solution and were prepared to pay for and deliver these for the benefit of all at no cost to the public purse. As it stands there are no other plans before the council to do that.
“This is another sad day for planning and investment in Edinburgh.
“We did all the right things – engaged with communities, went through and paid for the council pre-application process, undertook studies to ensure the best solution including preparing an Environmental Impact Assessment all of which was rejected out of hand.
“This is not the leadership we need as this city tries to recover from Covid.
“We are baffled and disappointed by the council’s approach to our proposals and its decision and believe we have clear grounds of appeal.”
The plans split public opinion, with the council receiving 57 objections and 74 letters of support from Edinburgh residents.
Objections have focused largely on the environmental impact – with air quality in the vicinity of the route a major concern for objectors – while supporters say the road will reduce congestion and ease commuting for airport workers.
Speaking after the meeting, councillor Neil Gardiner, the SNP convener of the development management committee, said: “The Development Management Sub-Committee carefully considered this application at a dedicated planning hearing, where they heard from council planning and transport officers, two community councils and adjoining landowners as well as the applicant, all of whom made presentations and were given the opportunity to respond to detailed questions from committee members.
“The council officers report very clearly set out planning policy reasons for recommending refusal of this particular application.
“While I understand that the outcome of today’s decision will be disappointing to the applicant, committee gave full consideration to all the issues contained in the report.
“Moving forwards, there is a real opportunity for the airport to work with the council and the surrounding landowners and community councils who objected to the proposal. This can enable coordinated development in accordance with planning policies.
“In building the future the whole can be more than the sum of the parts.”