Montgomery Street Park needs your vote

Montgomery Street Park Poster

The Friends of Montgomery Street Park are hopeful of winning funds from the Bank of Scotland Community Fund. They could get up towards the costs of building an accessible sensory garden in the park. The could receive up to £3000, but the final amount of money they get depends on how many votes the group gets from the public.

You can vote for them, by calling into a branch of the Bank of Scotland, Texting VOTE HJW to 82332 or online here.

A new art work for Pilrig Park

Balfours Botany Flyer

Over the summer months artist Andrea Geile and horticulturalist Rebecca Govier have been working with local groups to investigate the legacy of Edinburgh botanist John Hutton Balfour (1808-1884).

Known by some as ‘Woody Fiber’ his enthusiasm for botanical exploration was not just for the discovery of new species, but in understanding their ‘place in vegetation’. Inspired by ‘Woody’, Balfour’s Botany combines both his passion for teaching and the desire to understand a plants ‘place’, bringing this dynamism once more to Pilrig Park.

Citizen Curator is now proud to host a family friendly programme of events, culminating in a Biodiversity barbeque to celebrate the project and the launch of a new public artwork made for Pilrig Park.

Planting Out – meeting at the Pilrig Park Allotments
Saturday 27 September, 5.00 – 8.30pm

Artwork Preview: 5.00 – 5.30pm
A walk in the park with lead artist Andrea Geile, discussing the new public
artwork made for Pilrig Park

Shed Talk: 5.30 – 6.30pm
Discussion in the allotments hosted by horticulturalist Rebecca Govier and
guests, about the future of Pilrig Park’s development

Biodiversity Barbeque: 6.30 to 8.30pm
A chance to continue the discussion with the whole Balfour’s Botany team.
All welcome! Please bring a dish for this informal social event.

This free event is open to all
RSVP – [email protected]

Take five minutes to help make Leith Walk safer

Leith 20mph Map

The council is currently consulting on proposals that could see most main roads in Leith become safer.

By dropping the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph, it is hoped that fewer people will be seriously harmed on Leith’s streets.

A pedestrian stuck by a vehicle at 20mph has a 97% chance of survival, whilst this drops to just 50% if the vehicle is travelling at 35mph. This is why it’s so important to get traffic speeds down.

However, even though every local consultation on this issue which has happened before has shown consistent support for 20mph limits from locals, it’s still important if you want to see more people friendly streets to take part in this consultation.

There’s an online survey here that takes two minutes to fill in: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/20mphSpeedLimit

Please do fill it in, and if you can, make sure to name the main roads, like Leith Walk, Easter Road and Great Junction Street, where you think the most difference could be made.

There will also be a consultation event at McDonald Road Library on September 24. If you can make the meeting, please do tell officials there why it’s so important that a 20mph limits is applied to all the main streets of Leith.

And if you have any doubts about the justification of 20mph limits, take a look at what we’ve written about this issue before.

You can find all the background documents to the consultation here.

Five ideas to soak up your free time and make Leith great

You’re reading a job advert!

We are looking for people willing to give their time by joining Greener Leith as executive board members. Executive board members do the leg work that keeps Greener Leith ticking and engaged with our network of supporters.

What kind of people are we looking for?

Passion for what Greener Leith is trying to achieve – making Leith a better place to live and making the public realm of our neighbourhood more sustainable and attractive for everyone.

Enthusiasm and willingness to commit time and energy to being on the Greener Leith board. Don’t live in Leith? We consider that being a Leither is a state of mind rather than geography, so you don’t necessarily have to live in north Edinburgh.

What could you do? Here are five ideas:

  • Improve Leith’s parks

Interested in helping improve parks in our area? We’re looking for board members who would be interested in doing things like applying for funding to develop facilities, making submissions to the council, organising clean-ups, working with friends of parks groups and getting involved in some very exciting proposals to regenerate unloved areas.

  • Get involved in town planning

Want to see Leith developed sustainably and ensure new buildings and facilities are in the best interest of our neighbourhood for the long term? A large part of our work at Greener Leith is responding to planning applications, organising consultations and participating in developing planning policy at all levels of government. Come and help improve urban planning with us.

  • Enliven local democracy

Want to help run Edinburgh, sort of? Greener Leith believes that local community councils are an important way of ensuring voices in our neighbourhood are heard. We’d welcome board members who wanted to participate in community councils and help make this part of our local democracy work for Leith.

  • Accounting and lawyering for a good cause

Do you have accounting and legal skills that you’d like to apply to the task of making Leith a better place? We’d welcome legal and accounting professionals on our board to assist us with governance and developing our wind turbine project (more information). We’ve got a project vehicle that needs a secretary/accountant, legal documents to draft and lawyering on investment agreements to be done

  • Thinking out of the box

Got an idea to make Leith a better place to live but need to find some like-minded people to make it happen? Got web, IT, design, skills you’d like to apply to greening Leith? Come see us.

For more information please call Charlotte Encombe on 07799 053 330 or email her at [email protected]

Low emissions transport key to cutting air pollution

Hybrid Bus

A new report from the City of Edinburgh Council shows that low-emission hybrid buses have played a key role in reducing air pollution in Leith.

Officials claim that increasing use of the buses on key routes in Leith has helped to reduce Nitrogen Oxide levels on many Leith streets where this pollutant has historically been a problem.

Nevertheless, poor air quality is said to lead to around 205 early deaths per year in Edinburgh alone, according to Public Health England.

And despite official attempts to talk up air quality improvements, the actual data shows that illegal levels of NOx were still recorded on Great Junction Street, Easter Road, Leith Walk, London Road, and Bernard Street.

Indeed there is a notable difference in tone between the main report which suggests that there may be scope to roll back Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA’s must be designated where dangerous levels of pollution are found), and the appendices to the report which bluntly state that all the existing AQMA’s “remain valid,” because legal limits were breached in each one.

The reports also reveal the impact that vehicles with large diesel engines have on local air quality. On London Road for example, buses make up just 8% of the total traffic volume but generate 56% of the dangerous NOx air pollution on the street.

On Bernard Street, it’s HGV’s which cause the majority of the air pollution. Although HGV’s account for just 5% of the traffic volume of the street, they’re responsible for generating 38% of the NOx air pollution problems there.

The main report acknowledges that extending the city centre Air Quality Management Area into the Southside will be necessary and it also concludes that an Air Quality Management Area on Salamander Street is likely to be set up later in the year once research work has been completed.

This year Salamander Street was among the first streets in Scotland to break air quality limits for particulate emissions, an issue Greener Leith looked at in detail in this earlier blog post.

On Salamander Street officials report: “Salamander Street AQMS did not meet the tighter Scottish Government PM10 annual objective of 18ug/m3. Currently modelling work is being undertaken by air quality consultants in order to define an AQMA boundary to deal with industrial, transport related and other particulate matter sources near the Salamander Street monitoring location.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland are calling on the council to do more to tackle air pollution in the city. They propose establishing one or more Low Emissions Zones which would see the most heavily polluting vehicles, such as older HGV’s and buses, banned from some parts of the city.

Indeed, for streets where HGV’s are a significant problem, like Bernard Street, this might be the only way to decisively control pollution.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said, “Every day people in Edinburgh are forced to breathe in toxic gases and particles from traffic. Air pollution is worsening our health, with more than 200 people in Edinburgh dying from this invisible killer each year. The Government now says that Edinburgh will only achieve clean air standards by 2020. This means many more people suffering preventable deaths and health problems.”

She added: “We are seeing some improvements in certain areas where buses have upgraded their fleet to have lower emission exhausts. This demonstrates that that air pollution can be successfully tackled and that low emission public transport is part of the solution.”

“The areas of increasing pollution show that the Council needs a more holistic approach where emission standards are improved across the whole city. It should introduce a Low Emission Zone similar to the one in Copenhagen or Berlin, where the most polluting vehicles are banned from parts of the city. It also needs to revisit the idea of congestion charging and continue its investment in walking and cycling.”

Commenting on the report, which will be considered by councillors on the 26th of August, Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “Monitoring carried out allows us to see the invisible effects traffic has on our environment, but I am heartened by the general positive trend in air quality.”

“Work carried out by bus and freight companies is having an undoubted impact on emissions, and I am certain that our approach to integrated transport will continue to have an effect.

“However, it is clear that there is still a lot to be done to reduce harmful emissions in Edinburgh, creating a cleaner, greener city for everyone, and we are committed to continuing this work with partners.”

If you would like to see councillors bring air pollution under control before 2020, then you you might want to consider emailing councillors on the Transport, Infrastructure and Environment committee. They will be meeting this week to consider what action to take to tackle the problem.

Image Credit: Kim Traynor | CC | http://bit.ly/1pijWfl

UPDATE: This post was updated to take account of further detailed information on air quality posted to the council website.