Anti-Terror barriers to be installed in Edinburgh over Christmas

New anti-terror barriers are set to be installed in Edinburgh city centre for up to seven weeks over the festive season due to the vast numbers of visitors expected to flood in for its Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations.

High security barriers installed on Edinburgh's Royal Mile to prevent terrorists from ramming vehicles into pedestrians.Picture: SWNS
High security barriers installed on Edinburgh's Royal Mile to prevent terrorists from ramming vehicles into pedestrians.Picture: SWNS

Several sites around the New Town are expected to see the introduction of similar measures to those introduced around the Old Town in August.

Talks have already been held between event producers Underbelly, which is in charge of the city’s Hogmanay celebrations for the first time, police chiefs and city council officials. Security was beefed up in Edinburgh in the summer in the wake of the terror attacks in London and Manchester with a barrier system “designed to prevent hostile attacks on key or busy crowded locations” introduced at Johnston Terrace. The Mound, St Giles’ Street and the Royal Mile.

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Several significant changes are being made to expand Edinburgh’s Christmas event, which has already seen ticket sales grow by almost 50 per cent in the past three years.

Part of George Street will be closed off to traffic in the run-up to Christmas for a “frozen museum”, while General Register House, at the junction of North Bridge and Princes Street, will be turned into a giant advent calendar after dark.

Other major attractions, including an open-air ice rink, the Star Flyer ride and festive markets will be returning to St Andrew Square, The Mound and a site next to the Scott Monument on Princes Street.

Organisers say safety and security will be treated “extremely seriously” due to the scale and popularity of the city’s winter events.

Nearly four million people were thought to have visited key sites across the city centre during last year’s winter festivals – up almost 25 per cent on the numbers going to the same events five years ago.

Underbelly director Charlie Wood said: “It is important to emphasis that the threat level is the same as it was this time last year. Security concerns are not new. But they are there and we take them extremely seriously.

“There are ongoing meetings with the police and the council to review all of our security arrangements. They are taken very seriously.

“The exact procedures for this year are still being discussed. Certain sites will require hostile vehicle mitigation measures.

“There is no new threat and no new intelligence specific to Edinburgh, but as the city is a big Christmas destination it is being talked about in detail.

“Security is our first and foremost concern. Decisions are being made, but if the threat level changes then those plans may change. Everything is constantly under review.

“I thought the arrangements worked well in the Old Town in the summer. Our experience in Edinburgh and elsewhere in the UK is that people have reacted well to barriers and are reassured by them.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “At this time the policing plan for Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay is being developed and officers are already working with the event organisers and the council to ensure that a safe and secure event is delivered this year.

“The policing plan for any major event is dynamic and dependent on the security picture at that time. The public can be assured that an appropriate policing plan will be in place and suitable messaging will be issued to inform the public of any changes from last year’s plan.”

A council spokesman said: “Any measures that will be put in place will be as a result of recommendations on the most appropriate measures to the event organiser, along with our own input.”