St. John’s Road in Costorphine has been named Scotland’s most polluted street after levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air approached two times the legal limit.
The street had previously held third place in the rankings. Located on the main route between the city of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Airport, St. John’s Road suffers from serious congestion due to a constant stream of freight lorries, buses, taxis, and private vehicles.
The local council recently refused planning permission for a new Waitrose supermarket and multistory car park on the street, which some estimates suggest would have increased daily congestion by up to 3,000 vehicles.
The road is already served by both a Sainsbury’s and a Scotmid. But the council’s exclusion of Waitrose has left a hole in the high street, with the lot the supermarket was due to occupy left empty.
In interviews with The Student, residents and employees of local businesses blamed the road’s congestion for the dangerous levels of air pollution.
Speaking to The Student in a butcher shop on St. John’s Road, local resident Isabella Gorham said: “The pollution here is just diabolical.
“It’s just that [the traffic] is constant. Sometimes we’re walking back up there and you honestly count eight taxis in a row all going out to the airport.
“But you know, I don’t know if the solution to pollution is just stopping a supermarket, is it? It’s about regulations.
“I think it [the proposed supermarket] would cause a bit of havoc and exacerbate the problem. But the problem is that people use their cars far too much in the first place.”
A manager at one of the street’s supermarkets, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the press, said: “We do have a huge number of delivery trucks coming up and down here, and buses, and all sorts of that type of shit. You do see delivery trucks nearly four or five times a day.”
In comments to The Student, local florist Jennifer Archer said that although she had not heard the statistics on nitrogen dioxide levels found in the air, she was concerned over the road’s congestion.
Archer said: “Yeah, it is so busy along here, it is. It’s constant, all day long.”
The street’s air quality is measured by a permanent scientific implement installed outside a Boots pharmacy. Some residents have asked whether the entire road is as polluted as the device suggests.
Asked if she would call St. John’s Road polluted, a cashier at one of the street’s supermarkets said: “It’s a busy street because they’re coming in from Glasgow and going all the way through.
“It’s only at certain parts of it. They didn’t say which end. So there’s a certain part that’s double the legal limit.”
Image: Planning permission for a new supermarket on St John’s Road was refused due to traffic congestion.
Image credit: Thurston Smalley