By Jim Forbes, Vice-Chair of Murrayfield Community Council.

In this month’s issue of The Edinburgh Reporter, the Rt Hon Lord Provost, Cllr Frank Ross, is shown planting the symbolic first tree in the drive to make Edinburgh a Million Tree City. He stresses our shared responsibility as a community and as individual citizens to manage our trees.

Turning a few pages, we find Cllr Neil Gardiner, Planning Convener, emphasising the need to protect Edinburgh’s beautiful green setting, increase biodiversity and rise to the challenges of climate change and finite resources.

The heron which commutes between the loch and the Water of Leith Photo Jim Forbes

The city’s commitment to these laudable goals is about to be tested in microcosm in the West Murrayfield Conservation Area.

A small but vital wildlife oasis, probably the last of its kind left in West Edinburgh, is earmarked for destruction to provide 14 luxury townhouses and apartments. It is at 9 Kinellan Road and has at its heart a small but deep loch (a former quarry – the word “pond” seems inadequate). With its margins and reedbed, the loch provides a habitat and food source for a wide variety of insects, amphibians, birds and mammals. Ducks, moorhens and herons “commute” between this sanctuary and the Water of Leith, some nesting and raising their young in the seclusion of a beautiful spot.

Historically, the land beside the loch was shaded by some magnificent mature trees. Regrettably, at least 8 of these were felled without the required notification to Planning; as a result the entire site is now under a Tree Protection Order. Yet if the proposed development is given the go-ahead, 8–10 more healthy trees will be axed. Even more disturbingly, the entire loch will be filled in, displacing around a million gallons of water and destroying forever this haven of biodiversity.

Two previous planning applications for the site were withdrawn. The latest one (21/05580/FUL) is now open for public comment until 26 November.

Opposition is being mobilised by Murrayfield Community Council and a coalition of concerned citizens.

Lovers of Edinburgh’s natural heritage are urged to make their views known via the Planning Portal or by mail to the Chief Planning Officer, PLACE, Waverley Court, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh EH8 8BG.

The planning application for the site at 9 Kinellan Road is made in the name of Rockshiel Trust, while David Hay is understood to own the property. For the full picture on the links between actor, Louise Linton, Steven Mnuchin, former US Treasury Secretary under President Donald Trump and Ms Linton’s family company Linton Hay Properties read investigative journalist, Martyn McLaughlin’s, investigations here.

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Number 9 Kinellan Road which conceals a loch behind its gates PHOTO ©2021 The Edinburgh Reporter