Councillors to take train to France after travel pressure

They had originally planned to fly but the train has been a considered more sustainable method.

A five-strong Edinburgh Council delegation will catch a train to a conference in France after environmental fears were raised over plans to fly.

Depute leader Cammy Day, planning convener Neil Gardiner and three officials originally planned to travel to Cannes by plane but concerns were voiced over the impact of the flight on the environment.

It would have required a stop in Budapest and, following pressure by other councillors, travelling by train was found to be more sustainable.

Councillor Melanie Main called on Councillor Day to “lead by example” amid accusations the authority was talking about tackling climate change but taking little action to address it.

The local authority had last year declared a climate emergency, as well as pledging to transform Edinburgh into a carbon neutral city by 2030.

Officials estimated flying five people to the south of France and back would cost almost 2500kg of carbon – but told opposition councillors, who raised concerns, that “comfort” of those taking part in the trip had to be taken into account.

Councillor Gillian Gloyer, who first raised the concerns, said she was pleased some carbon will be saved by the change of heart,

She said: “There just seemed to be no flexibility, with the possible exception of of the planning convener.

“I’m delighted they have found that flying is less convenient than the train. You can work on the train, you can take phone calls and have meetings – there’s all sorts of things you can do which you can’t on a plane.

“Most people understand that you can’t expect people to take the plane to Beijing but getting to the south of France really is pretty easy. It’s a pity they are still flying back, but at least we have saved a bit of carbon.”

Councillor Day said he was also happy with the change of plans.

“I don’t really mind how we get there as long as we can make the most of the event,” he explained.

“It means I can get on with work on the way and I don’t like all the going through security at airports – so I’m quite happy with what is arranged.”

A council spokesman added: “The council is one of many city partners working together to attract strategic development and jobs growth in Edinburgh and events like MIPIM are key for forging partnerships with international investors, which have in previous years led to landmark developments like New Waverley.

“Following last week’s committee meeting, members have elected to travel by train to the conference in March. This is the most sustainable mode of transport available from Edinburgh to Cannes and final travel arrangements are being made.”

Story by local democracy report David Bol

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