Swinney refuses to enter row on world heritage status

THE Scottish Government says it will not intervene in the row over the future of Edinburgh's world heritage status.

John Swinney made it clear yesterday he saw no justification for any "call-in" of developments that have triggered an inquiry by Unesco, which could lead to the city losing its status.

The finance secretary, who is responsible for planning issues, said he had been content to leave key decisions on controversial applications to the city council, as there were no grounds for concern over the scale of proposed new developments.

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He urged heritage groups to be "careful" in their comments and welcomed plans to redevelop long-standing eyesores.

The government is facing demands for public inquiries into the Caltongate and Haymarket developments after Unesco's world heritage committee in July announced a year-long investigation into Edinburgh.

The council yesterday rubber-stamped previous decisions on the two schemes, made before Unesco's investigation was launched.

But the government has still to give final backing to both, as well as to a blueprint for the transformation of Leith Docks, also approved by the council, which has led to Unesco concern over the height of buildings.