2021 SuDS Champion Awards

We are delighted to announce that Senior Planner Julie Waldron has been named 2021 SuDS Champion in the “Experienced SuDS Professional” category.

Run annually by Susdrain, the awards invite the water industry to nominate someone who they believe has gone ‘the extra mile’ to be recognised for their achievements to inspire, inform and influence the delivery of SuDS.

Earlier this year Julie led the delivery of Edinburgh’s Vision for Management of Water in the City of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh’s Water Vision is;

To develop a long-term and sustainable approach to river, coastal and storm water management across the city and its environs, respecting our unique historic heritage. This will involve all stakeholders and address the flooding and water quality risks associated with our changing climate as a result of changes in rainfall and sea level rise.

One key aim of the vision is the need to manage the first 5mm of rainfall within every new development plot.

This is a big change for both planning, transport and building standards, and will require building more raingardens, green roofs and other sustainable urban drainage features in developments. Everyone can help, by thinking about ‘holding back’ their water in their own gardens using raingardens and water butts. Even a small amount will collectively, across the city, make a significant difference.

We are developing our own guidance, which is currently in draft, and will be shared very soon. 

Overall this will help hold back water from the sewers and the rivers especially important in times of intense rainfall, allow more plants to grow and wildlife to thrive and create greener places for people to live, work and visit. It will also support healthier, happier and better off communities.

Have a look at to our blog on Edinburgh’s Water Vison from earlier this year.

Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone Consultation

Last week we opened a consultation on Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone.

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) aim to reduce air pollution, since it presents a significant threat to public health. It is especially harmful to young children, the elderly and those suffering from pre-existing conditions, including heart and lung diseases.

We last updated you on the proposed LEZ on the Planning Edinburgh Blog back in December 2020.

They are being introduced across Scotland’s four largest cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee in response to dangerous levels of air pollution generated by road traffic.

LEZs improve public health by discouraging the most polluting vehicles from entering an area. Benefits of this Zone will extend beyond the city centre by improving air quality, encouraging more sustainable travel and supporting the reduction of greenhouse gases across the city.

You can use the national vehicle checker to see if your vehicle is likely to meet the minimum emission standards.

The LEZ is planned to start the LEZ on 31st May 2022, however enforcement would not begin until 1st June 2024 – a ‘grace period’ of 2 years, which aims to help individuals and organisations to get ready.

Some exemptions will apply to the LEZ rules for example, disabled persons (including blue badge holders), historic vehicles and emergency vehicles as well as others outlined in the ‘Proposal to Make a LEZ’ consultation document.

The Council also has the powers to consider local ‘time-limited’ exemptions in exemptional and unique circumstances.

All details of the proposed LEZ are outlined in full in the ‘Proposal to Make a LEZ’ consultation document. This contains the following information:

  • Edinburgh’s LEZ Objectives and why we think the LEZ is required and appropriate
  • The proposed LEZ start date, operation times and grace period
  • The scope of vehicle types that will be included in the LEZ
  • Exemptions
  • Penalties
  • Map and a list of roads included in the LEZ

The Proposed LEZ will align with the Councils;

Why we are consulting

We are seeking views on the following proposed aspects of the Edinburgh LEZ:

  • city centre zone boundary
  • 2 -year grace period
  • local exemptions and considerations for impacted groups

We are also seeking to understand knowledge of LEZs and LEZ related support funds and those available for other sustainable transport options. The consultation period is running for 12 weeks, from the 28th June 2021 and closing on 20th September 2021.

Responses, comments or feedback can also be emailed to: low.emission.zone@edinburgh.gov.uk,

or posted to: Low Emission Zone, Waverley Court G3, East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG

Depending on the volume of feedback received, it is hoped that a final LEZ scheme can be formally published towards the end of 2021 and agreed by the Council and Scottish Ministers early in 2022 before it is implemented in May 2022.

Clean Air Day

Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK.  Poor air quality causes heart and lung disease and is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development.

Thursday 17 June is Clean Air Day – the UK’s largest air pollution campaign that aims to bring people together to build awareness of the actions we can all do to tackle it.

Planning has an important role to play in this. Here in Edinburgh, we are setting out actions in strategies and plans to help tackle this, for example in our; 

The Clean Air Day campaign website has a wealth of ideas and ready-made materials to make it easy to get involved.

Edinburgh’s Water Vision

Climate change is going to impact on our lives in more ways than we can even imagine. In response to this, new developments and existing buildings in Edinburgh will have to change in order to support the needs of people. We will also need to consider how public realm, open space, infrastructure and streets are designed, agreed, constructed and maintained.

One of the ways we are preparing Edinburgh for these changes is through our Vision for Management of Water in the City of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh’s Water Vision is;

To develop a long-term and sustainable approach to river, coastal and storm water management across the city and its environs, respecting our unique historic heritage. This will involve all stakeholders and address the flooding and water quality risks associated with our changing climate as a result of changes in rainfall and sea level rise.

One key aim of the report is the need to manage the first 5mm of rainfall within every new development plot.

This is a big change for both planning and building standards, and will require building more raingardens, green roofs and other sustainable urban drainage features.

This will help more plants and wildlife to grow and create greener places for people to live, work and visit. It will also support healthier, happier and better off communities.

A greener city will make our neighbourhoods cooler, helping them become more resilient to heatwaves. This is important as our changing climate means extreme weather events like heatwaves are expected to increase.

Improving drainage

Much of Edinburgh has a historic combined sewer network. This means it carries both sewage and surface water to treatment works.

Our Vision for Management of Water will reduce the amount of clean surface water within the sewer network. This will help cut sewer flooding during heavy rainfall.

We also have a range of  Planning Flood guidance available to help. This will help people to design landscapes which, as well as holding back water to reduce flooding, will encourage plants and wildlife to grow.

As well as making these places nicer to spend time in, plants and wildlife will help to naturally clean rainwater before it reaches our rivers and streams.

This new way of working will enable the development of a city that is adaptive and resilient to climate change, that is also beautiful and biodiverse delivering a healthier, thriving and compact city with a higher quality of life for all residents.

The idea is to deliver transformational change in the way that water is valued and managed in the city.

Looking back over Lockdown

Thank-you

We wanted to stop and take a moment to reflect over the past months. I think we can all agree that 2020 hasn’t turned out to be the year that we had envisaged. Covid-19 took the world by storm and as a nation we have had to swiftly adapt to a very different environment.

It has been one of our high priorities to continue to deliver a high-quality planning service to the people of Edinburgh. The planning service is a collaborative effort, we rely on public engagement, stakeholder contribution and of course, our customers, agents and, communities we work with on a daily basis. We wanted to take this opportunity to recognise your input in helping us to achieve a continued effective planning service; primarily your patience, your understanding and, your willingness to work with us during these challenging times. Though most of our work stations now look very different, this has not hindered our shared ability to deliver a service that will help to support the economy of our city and, ultimately improve the quality of life for its residents.

Thank you from all of us.

A Service Update

At this stage, we feel it is important to share our story over the past six months, how the service has performed and, the outcome of our efforts.

From April through to the end of September, we received a total of 2104 applications. Over the same period, we have fully assessed 1908 planning applications. Average determination times continue to improve towards exceeding the Scottish national average. Given the circumstances of which we are working in, we are proud of our performance.

As you will be aware, our offices continue to remain closed and so, the past seven months have been an evolving work in progress, putting systems and strategies in place in order to continue to perform as a service. As we continue to develop, we are looking into how to work effectively in this new, remote environment. At present, we are focussing on how we can implement greater efficiencies into our processes to ensure that we continually improve the service. We are devoted to delivering a service that ensures Edinburgh remains a great city to be enjoyed by all!

Decision making

To further facilitate continued decision making, formal meetings such as the Development Management Sub-Committee, have also had to adapt. Since May, to date, the DM Sub-Committee has met virtually on eleven occasions and worked on through their summer recess period to do so. Committee members embraced a new way of working and consequently, have made 82 decisions over the period which have included several major applications such as, the Wave Garden at the former Craigpark Quarry site.

Once again, we are proud to highlight that as a service, we have been doing our very best to maintain an effective planning service.

Lessons moving forward

Moving forward, we are keen to embrace this new way of working. Given the unlikely return to the ‘old way of working’, we are looking forward to being able to continue to deliver the planning service in collaboration with you.

Reflecting over these past months we have uncovered some new challenges and, lessons have been learned. As a result of Covid-19, three key lessons we have encountered which we now realise have a significant impact on the continued operation of the service:

• Rapid change and adaptation were required in response to lockdown. This ignited a shift in the attitudes towards change in the service. We used to be relatively slow to change established ways of working however, seven months on, change through trialling and embracing innovative ways of delivering an effective service is now our focus.

• We recognise the service would not have been able to continue to operate without embracing new digital ways of working. Internally, we now have a team continually investigating and implementing new digital platforms to help deliver an efficient service.

• Consideration for the well-being of our staff, our consultees, our customers and, our communities. Our appreciation for well-being has adapted as lockdown measures encourage us all to work from home. The Planning Authority’s top priority is well-being and we are dedicated to implementing measures, through our newly established well-being team, to ensure we do what we can to protect our health well-being.

For your information

There have been changes to the Authority’s Scheme of Delegation.

The Scheme of Delegation to Officers sets out the powers delegated by the City of Edinburgh Council to officers, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and under emergency provisions, the Council’s Leadership Advisory Panel agreed temporary amendments to the Scheme of Delegation on 31 March 2020. These temporary amendments expired on 1 September 2020 and the new Scheme of Delegation comes into force on 1 November 2020.

To conclude

In conclusion, once again we thank-you for your co-operation during this period. None of the achievements mentioned above would have been possible without everyone’s input and willingness to ‘make it work’. We look forward to continuing to work with you in this ‘new normal’ and, striving to deliver an excellent planning service.

Thank you.