Edinburgh set for pivotal tram project decision

A City of Edinburgh Council committee has voted to take the final business case for the Newhaven tram extension to a meeting of the full council for a final decision.

Yesterday’s vote by councillors on the transport and environment committee will see the final made on March 14.

Committee convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “This project is one of the most important things that we can do for this great city so that current and future generations can share in Edinburgh’s success. It’s not purely about transport, it’s about sustainable economic growth - building resilience into our public transport infrastructure, unlocking swathes of brownfield development opportunities to let communities in the north of the city achieve their potential and boosting employment and quality of life by linking one of Scotland’s most densely populated areas safely, securely and affordably with key hubs for jobs, leisure and travel.

“I’d like to thank all the community council representatives for their hugely valuable contributions to the debate today, having worked closely with us to refine plans and designs over a period of several months, and for their broad support for proceeding with trams to Newhaven. While there are a small number of issues which remain unresolved, I’m confident that the project team – whose diligence, openness and success in building mutual trust with communities and stakeholders were rightly and widely applauded at the meeting today – will work closely with the contractor to address these during the six-month ‘Early Contractor Involvement’ period.

“Finally, I want to scotch claims that this is somehow a ‘vanity project’ driven solely by political aspiration rather than built on a solid, objective case – what absolute nonsense. Edinburgh is growing faster than any other city in Scotland and we simply cannot stand still and expect current public transport provision and infrastructure to cope with the additional demand that an extra 100,000+ residents by 2039 would create. No other credible alternative has been identified beyond investing in a sustainable, fully integrated public transport network where buses and trams operate seamlessly together. No other credible alternative has been identified which would deliver the same economic and development benefits to our city. This is the best way forward for Edinburgh and I’m confident Council will back the project next month.”

Vice transport convener Councillor Karen Doran added: “One of the most striking things that came out in today’s debate was the need to recognise that while we as councillors might only have a relatively short time at the helm, it’s our duty to take the long view. Decisions we make today can have positive and far-reaching impacts which will benefit and enrich the city in the decades ahead. Taking trams to Newhaven is a major project in itself but it’s just part of a much bigger strategic vision for the Capital, one where people are right at the heart of placemaking. I look forward to continuing the debate and scrutiny of the Final Business Case on 14 March – if it gets the green light, as I think it should, we’ll be setting Edinburgh in very good stead to meet the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead in the next 20 years and beyond.”

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