|Save Dalkeith Park|
Frequently Asked Questions
This page answers some of the questions which have been asked of the campaigners. If anyone has any they would like to add, please e-mail us
What is the Dalkeith Park?
Dalkeith Park is situated between the town of Dalkeith and the A1. The Park is part of the Edinburgh Green Belt. There has been a Dalkeith Park since the 1630's. The current approximately 1,000 acres of designed landscape dates from the 1720's and appears in Historic Scotland's Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.
It is a well-used amenity, easily accessed by foot, cycle, car or bus. Use of the Park has increased steadily over the years and it now attracts more than 50,000 visitors annually. An area of outstanding natural beauty, it is a popular retreat for wildlife enthusiasts, cyclists, fishermen, horse-riders, orienteering groups and walkers.
The Park is a haven for wildlife including brown hare, roe deer, foxes, heron, buzzards, goshawks, otters, badgers and kingfishers to name but a few. In fact the River Esk Valley is a listed wildlife site.
The Dalkeith Park is a unique asset to the area and should be preserved as part of our natural heritage for the enjoyment of future generations.
|How will the proposed route of the Dalkeith Northern Bypass affect Dalkeith Park?||
The proposed route will divide the park, cutting through tracks, listed wildlife areas and farmland. The road will be a visual disturbance in an otherwise beautiful landscape. Noise levels are bound to increase, disturbing the peaceful rural atmosphere. Much of the road will be lit at night causing light pollution. The wildlife of the River Esk Valley, a listed wildlife site will be disturbed.
|What is the justification for the road?||On 16 June 2005 the then Transport Minister, Nicol Stephen indicated that "This new bypass for Dalkeith will help reduce congestion around the town and improve the community's environment and air quality". The same press release indicated that the Minister had asked its consultants "to prepare the new single carriageway scheme for construction as a matter of urgency."|
|But what did the Executive originally say they were going to do?||Following the Strategic Roads Review in 1999 the Executive indicated that three road schemes including the Dalkeith Northern Bypass would be "held in abeyance and considered alongside other emerging priorities for a future trunk road programme which will be appraised using a multi modal approach". The idea of a multi-modal appraisal is that the project would be considered against possible schemes involving alternative modes of transport such as reintroducing rail services into the area.|
|Has the Executive carried out this multi modal study?||No. Where then is the urgency for the construction of the bypass if the Executive have not carried out the multi-modal study? If it is not known that the bypass is the best option how can pressing ahead with its construction be so urgent? How can the Executive know that the project still represents best value for the Scottish taxpayer?|
|Is the Executive carrying out any studies in relation to transport in Dalkeith?||Yes, the same consultants that are preparing the design work for the road are undertaking such a study. However, given the decision to construct the road such a study seems pointless as any contrary recommendations it might contain will be pre-empted by the construction of the road. It also seems highly inappropriate to use the same consultants to design the road and carry out this study. This seems to involve a clear conflict of interest.|
|Are all the assumptions underlying the original decision still valid?||
The assumptions - economic, traffic, environmental - underpinning the original decision to construct the road, date from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Although further assessments have been undertaken - and indeed are being undertaken at present - these efforts seem tokenistic at best since the Executive has decided that the road is to be built regardless of what the assessments say. Again it seems to be a question of the Ministerial decision pre-empting any conflicting evidence.
Overall transport policy. Transport policy has changed significantly since the road was originally authorised. There is now an emphasis on trying to reduce reliance on the car hence reducing congestion, achieving air quality improvements and extending the public transport network. Also new developments should be located near good public transport where possible. The Scottish Executive's support for various rail schemes, not least re-opening the Borders Railway which would serve Eskbank and Dalkeith is an example of this shift in emphasis. With a strong likelihood of the Borders Railway being rebuilt, how can the traffic assessments for the road still be accurate?
Development of the road network in the area. The road was authorised prior to the A7 bypass being constructed and prior to the dualling of the A1 as far as Dunbar. The impact of the dualling of the A1 on, for example, lorry traffic on the A68 needs to be considered. The Sheriffhall-Millerhill section of the Edinburgh City Bypass is already massively congested at peak times and it is unclear how constructing a further junction between the Sheriffhall and Old Craighall roundabouts is going to do anything but make that congestion worse.
Recreational usage. Usage of Dalkeith Park has increased considerably in the intervening years, by walkers, cyclists and horse-riders. For example, there were only 25 horses based at the Edinburgh Equestrian Centre in 1990: that figure has now risen to well over 120. At a time when the Executive is trying to promote recreation for its health and associated benefits (for example, Deputy Environment minister Rhona Brankin announcing £1m for Greenspace Scotland for urban greenspaces on 26th August 2005), it seems odd they should spend £40m to destroy a major greenspace used by many people including those from disadvantaged areas.
|Has there been an environmental impact assessment (EIA) carried out?||
The importance of this is that there is a formal procedure set down at European Union level, not just to ensure that environmental information about the impact of the project is supplied by the developer, but also so that the public get a chance to comment to say whether it is, for example, inaccurate or to provide additional information. This is designed to help improve the quality of the decision. Current EIA Regulations also require a consideration of alternatives. Strategic Environmental Assessment, a new mechanism, for assessing the environmental impact of development plans also means that when considering alternatives, it should not just be, for example, one road against another, but whether public transport improvements such as rail enhancements would be a suitable alternative.
The EIA carried out by the executive regarding the bypass is not compliant with Council Directive 85/337/EEC which became effective in 1988. Interestingly, this project was determined to be one that did not fall within the ambit of the environmental assessment regime. So there was no specific public consultation on the environmental information gathered. Instead the Executive simply carried out its own non-statutory environmental appraisal and did not consult, as part of that, with the public. That then raises a separate legal issue which is whether the Executive were right to determine that the project did not fall within the scope of the environmental assessment regime. Decisions where there ought to have been but was not public consultation on environmental statements have been held unlawful by the House of Lords.
|What about the green belt?||The road will cut through the Edinburgh green belt at a time when the Executive is proposing to strengthen green belt controls to try to ensure both a more stable green belt and a more coherent approach to development in the green belt. The road will make it much easier for developments to take place along Salters Road which will undermine emerging Executive green belt policy.|
|What's in store if the road is built?||
The park will be cut in half severely damaging a complete landscaped park from the 18th century and restricting recreation opportunities for 1000s.
The viability of a working farm on the outskirts of Edinburgh will be affected.
likely to be very significant recreational impact as the area becomes
less attractive for walkers, cyclists and horseriders.
With this new development it is not clear that the Bypass would have a significant effect on air quality and noise levels in Dalkeith.
Massive congestion on the Sheriffhall - Old Craighall section of the Edinburgh City Bypass.
|What should be done?||*
The current plan to build the road should be put on hold immediately.
* The Executive should deliver on its promise to conduct a multi-modal appraisal. As part of that, the road proposals should be re-evaluated in the light of current policy to take into account the changes in the last 10 - 15 years in the transport infrastructure, environment and recreational usage of the Park. There should be full public consultation as part of this.
* Most importantly Dalkeith Park should be saved. It is a unique asset to the area and if the Executive is genuinely committed to a policy of sustainable development it should be preserved as part of our natural heritage for the enjoyment of future generations.