What now for the greenbelt and for greenbelt communities?

What now for the greenbelt and for greenbelt communities? How will Midlothian be effected by this ongoing expansion of housing and associated infrastructure in Edinburgh and this continuing nibbling away of the greenbelt?

Will the thousands of empty homes and commercial premises across the city ever be developed? Will the existing acres of brownfield sites and land banked by developers ever be brought into sustainable use? When will we actually start building sustainable livable homes that are affordable, accessible and connected to good quality local services, transport and greenspace?

What is the value of all LDPs and their housing targets, including Midlothian’s  post-Brexit?  There’s a question!  Perhaps a time fro a rapid reassessment?

At present, I’m not sure that there’s a satisfactory answer to any of these questions? Or indeed any sign that the voice or concerns of local communities on either side of the greenbelt will be heard any time soon by either local or central government.

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We voted to stay, and that

Well if independence is put to the test again, nobody will be able to claim that the status quo is even an option; to remain in the UK would be to leap together into an uncertain future outside the family of European nations.

I was immensely reassured this week to see thousands of people gather together outside Holyrood

Moving the goal posts on community energy

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Midlothian Green Party members interested in promoting local opportunities for community owned renewables will be dismayed by recent reductions in support available for the UK Government.

Community energy schemes will be hit hardest by Amber Rudd’s recent energy subsidy shake-up, ministers from Scotland and Wales have warned.

Scotland Energy Minister Fergus Ewing and Wales Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant have co-authored an open letter to Rudd urging her to consider new ways to support community schemes.

The two ministers were particularly critical of Rudd

Local Plan risks Midlothian turning into an extension of suburban Edinburgh

Midlothian Greens have condemned the Proposed Midlothian Local Development Plan (MLDP) as totally lacking in sustainability, and risking turning Midlothian into a suburb of Edinburgh.

The MLDP was approved by councillors on 16th December 2014 and is described by Midlothian Council as representing the council’s settled view as to what the final adopted content of the plan should be. The statutory period for representation/expression of opinion runs from 14th May to 26th June and comments can be submitted on the Council’s web site during that period.

At the meeting on 16th December, Midlothian’s Green councillor Ian Baxter voted against approval on the basis that it did not offer a sustainable future. The response now published and submitted by Midlothian Green Party to the consultation spells out in detail why we believe this to be the case.

Our submission can be downloaded from our Publications page, or here

Co-convener of Midlothian Greens, Malcolm Spaven said, The council’s proposals run the risk of turning Midlothian into little more than an extension of suburban Edinburgh, with more roads, more cars and more commuting. Our vision is to work with the council and local communities to develop a sustainable Midlothian with comprehensive transport solutions linking cohesive communities while protecting our green spaces and farm land and creating jobs that will last.”

Greens oppose ‘unsustainable’ Midlothian Local Development Plan over A701

Proposals to build a new A701 ‘Relief’ road and double the size of Straiton Retail Park led Green councillor Ian Baxter to move rejection of the proposed plan when it was brought before Midlothian Council on Tuesday 16th December. As his motion could not find a seconder, the plan was approved with minor amendments.

Councillor Baxter also challenged the decision to hold the discussion and decision in private, although this was overruled due to ‘commercial confidentiality’.

At the council meeting, Cllr Baxter said,

“It’s clear from recent Biodiversity and Climate Change reports that the council has neither the tools nor the inclination to objectively consider sustainability in the context of economic development. This worrying situation is confirmed by SEPA in a letter to the council dated 29 August 2013 where it stated that it would have welcomed a wider selection of questions on climate change than those set out and it felt that discussion on climate change issues had not been promoted.

“There are many reports published worldwide which clearly show that building more roads encourages more traffic, so what makes us believe that building the A701 Relief Road will be any different? How will this increase help us achieve the stated Strategic Aim of “responding robustly to the challenges of mitigating climate change

Council decision ignores the needs of a growing community

Midlothian Council’s decision not to accept the Bonnyrigg Centre Trust’s bid for the former Leisure Centre has been described as ignoring the needs of the local community by Green councillor Ian Baxter.

At a full meeting of Midlothian Council on 24th June, the council has agreed instead to look into the feasibility of letting some or all of the building to Bright Sparks, a local charity for children with disabilities.

Councillor Baxter said, “Whilst I am delighted that Bright Sparks has the prospect of moving to bigger and better premises, I am disappointed that the very many local organisations who worked together as part of the Bonnyrigg Centre Trust’s bid have been ignored by the council. The building is very big and could accommodate everyone. My proposal was for the Bonnyrigg Centre Trust to work with Midlothian Council to ensure that Bright Sparks and the Bonnyrigg and Sherwood Development Trust could also share the building as that seemed to me to be the best solution for everybody”.

He added, “I fear that there is now a real prospect that most of the building will be demolished”.