The Cramond Association: Promoting the amenity of the community of Cramond, Barnton and Cammo and safeguarding its heritage
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Cramond Association Members' Newsletter
April 2015
In this issue...
  • Next meeting on Monday 27 April ‘The life of James Clerk Maxwell’
  • Guided walk along the River Almond on Sun 12 April from 2.00 to 3.00pm
  • Next meeting of the History Section on Wednesday 15 April ‘Pictures of Old Edinburgh’
  • Update on proposed Cammo developments
  • Talk on ‘Climate Change’ by Anthony Seaton, newly elected vice president of the Association and emeritus professor of environmental medicine at the University of Aberdeen
  • Proposed care home in Cramond – artist’s impressions
The Life of James Clerk Maxwell
Don’t miss Mr David Forfar’s presentation on James Clerk Maxwell’s work - one of the most influential scientists of all time.
Maxwell – on the Rings of Saturn
Maxwell on colour photography
Left: Maxwell – on the Rings of Saturn. Right: Maxwell on colour photography
Albert Einstein said:

“The work of James Clerk Maxwell changed the world forever”.

Come and learn something of that work.


Cramond Kirk Hall,
Glebe Road, 7.30pm
It’s not too late to sign up...
from Cramond Brig to Cramond Village on Sunday 12th April at 2pm, with an expert guide!

Leaving Cramond Brig at 2pm with the aim of arriving at Cramond Village by approx. 3pm
Mill Trail
Cockle mill - these are the rehabilitated office buildings. The manager’s house stands at the top of the escarpment behind them.
Mill Trail
Learn what type of work each mill undertook, see what remains exist of the buildings today, gain an understanding of the living conditions, the quarries and pollution. 
 Cost - £3.00 per person, children accompanied by an adult go free. Please ensure you come prepared with appropriate footwear and clothing. To reserve a place on the guided walk please email or phone Bill Weir.  Email –; or tel - 0131 312 8147.
‘Pictures of Old Edinburgh’

Speaker: Mr. Simon Green
(The National Monuments
Records of Scotland)


Cramond Kirk Hall,
Glebe Road, 7.30pm
Meet in the Millennium Room, Cramond Kirk Hall, Glebe Road at 7:30 pm. Visitors welcomed – £1.00 per meeting
Una Woof, Convenor.
0131 336 5233
Cramond and Barnton Community Council Update about the developments in Cammo

Local Development Plan (LDP)

The City Council’s Planning Committee are due to discuss final approval of the LDP on 14 May.  The Committee’s Convenor has explained that the Committee’s deliberations have been delayed by the applicants for the Cammo site appealing against the Council’s non-determination of their application in principle within the required timescale.  Also, the forthcoming elections may have had a bearing on the delay in the Council’s decision making!  The applicant’s appeal has resulted in the proposals going to independent assessment by an inspector from the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals.  Subsequently, Scottish Ministers have ‘called in’ the Cammo proposals for their final decision, following completion of the planning inspector’s report.  Ministers’ decision on the Cammo proposals will be final in respect of the application in principle and if, as many expect, they support the development, then the site will require to be included in the LDP.  The timing of the Scottish Ministers’ decision on Cammo may further delay the Council’s decision on the LDP.

Maybury Proposal of Application Notice (PAN)
Representatives of the Community Council and other local community councils were invited to an information meeting by the developers and consultants of the Maybury (Turnhouse Road) housing site.  Following an introduction to the proposals, discussion focussed on issues such as traffic generation and congestion, the location of the proposed new Maybury Primary School and community hub, inclusion of land within the green belt to the north of Craigs Road and provision of medical and other community services. While the developers were ‘open’ about their intentions and problems they had been having regarding communicating with the Council over roads infrastructure, it is fair to say that they did not convince the community councils’ representatives that their proposals would resolve potential traffic and related issues.

The Community Council has responded to the PAN consultations with its concerns and suggestions for improvements to the proposals (e.g. more centrally located school and community facilities) and indicated that it is not satisfied with the level of the consultations undertaken on the PAN by the developers.

Current Planning Issues
Planning issues of wider concern to the community may be the subject of reports to, and discussions at, the Community Council’s regular meetings and result in submissions to the Council’s planners and Planning Committee.  Such matters are usually outlined in the Community Council’s papers, which are posted on its website and notice boards after its meetings.

There is a tide in the affairs of men: the story of climate change
Anthony Seaton, newly elected vice president of the Association and emeritus professor of environmental medicine at the University of Aberdeen, spoke on the history of the scientific discoveries leading to our present understanding of the changing climate. He started by referring to the end of the last ice age some 10,000 years ago, when the erratic stone was deposited at Cramond Brig, as the last great period of climate change. That melting had allowed, some 5000 years later, Mesolithic people to become the first known settlers in our area. From then the population of the planet had remained fairly stable at a few million until better understanding of agriculture some 4000 years ago allowed a slow increase to  about half a billion 200 years ago. It was then, in 1798, that Malthus published his gloomy warning of disaster if the population could not be controlled, as he calculated that population growth outstripped that of food supply. However, a few years previously, in 1776, two Scottish discoveries had started the world on a course of change which led to extraordinary prosperity and also inadvertently to the dilemma we now confront. These were the improvements to Newcomen’s steam engine by James Watt and the application of capital to markets explained by Adam Smith in his book “The Growth of Nations”. The ensuing Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions have allowed the world population to increase exponentially up to its present 7 billion in just over 200 years. All these people and those larger numbers who follow us will require to live off the earth’s resources of food and energy.

Anthony described the discovery of the important gases involved in climate change, carbon dioxide by Joseph Black in Glasgow, methane by Alessandro Volta in Italy and Nitrogen by Black’s student Daniel Rutherford. He explained the carbon cycle, animals using oxygen for their energy and releasing carbon dioxide, discovered by the Lavoisiers in Paris, and the reverse process powered by sunlight in plants, discovered by von Liebig in Germany (who also worked out the importance of nitrogen and thus their use as fertilizers).

The first discovery of the importance of our atmosphere in the Earth’s ecology was by a French mathematician, Fourier, in 1824, when he likened its effect to that of glass in allowing heat in but trapping its escape, the greenhouse effect. This was investigated by the English scientist Tyndall who in 1860 found that the gases responsible for this were carbon dioxide and other compound gases such as methane, which absorbed reflected infra-red radiation and kept it in the atmosphere. The magnitude of this effect was estimated by a Swedish scientist, Arrhenius, who in 1886 reckoned that a rise of carbon dioxide by 50% on then current level of 300 parts per million (ppm) would increase the earth’s temperature by 3.5°C. But he thought that this would be a good thing as it would increase agricultural productivity and prevent a further ice age.

For most of the 20th century we were complacent about this effect. Supplies of coal were almost endless and, after the discovery of shale oil in 1880 by James “Paraffin” Young in West Lothian followed by that of liquid oil in Pennsylvania, we had further huge supplies of energy. Our main concern was industrial pollution and its dire effects on the health of people in our cities, and we forgot about the unseen pollutant, carbon dioxide.  We knew that it was taken up by plants and absorbed by the vast oceans, so it seemed likely we could simply continue burning it at will to increase our prosperity. Then two things happened.  First it was noticed, in 1938 by an English engineer, Guy Callender, and then by an American oceanic chemist, Roger Revelle, that the oceans were becoming more acidic from absorbing the carbon dioxide and thus less able to take it up. Secondly, it was recognised that we were losing forests, especially in the tropics. The places where carbon dioxide could be absorbed were becoming less available. Revelle and his colleagues started measuring it in the air over the Pacific and found it was already 350ppm. Since then it has climbed year on year and is now 400ppm, 33% higher than in Arrhenius’s time. Measurements of methane have shown a similar rapid rise.

Following these observations, scientists have been able to investigate the atmosphere by the extraordinary feat of drilling down in ice at the poles and in glaciers to obtain core samples containing air bubbles frozen in it, back to a million years ago. These samples have shown there to have been a fluctuation in carbon dioxide between about 200ppm and 300ppm over cycles of about 100,000 years, the low points marking ice ages. Our carbon dioxide levels, 400ppm, are now one third higher than they have been in the last million years, since Homo erectus started running on his two legs. Methane, which is an even more potent gas than carbon dioxide, has shown a similar pattern. This huge change has occurred over only 200 years.

The increase in production of the two most important greenhouse gases is a consequence of man’s activity. Carbon dioxide is produced mainly by combustion of fossil fuels, oil, coal, and natural gas, as well of course by animal (including man’s) and bacterial respiration. Methane is produced mainly from agriculture, both turning over soil and animal farming, from mining and oil exploration, and from melting of permafrost. The consequence of the accumulation of these gases in the atmosphere is a progressive rise in temperature. But now we take a much more worrying view of its consequences. It doesn’t sound much, but already the oceans and atmosphere are collectively almost 1°C higher than in Arrhenius’s time and, as would be expected from expansion of water and melting of land-based ice, the sea level has also risen year on year and is now 9 inches higher than in 1880. Again, not much, unless of course you live in a low-lying island or city and are subject to tides and storms.

The rise in temperature of the land and oceans, and the rise in sea level have already had important consequences. More evaporation has led to more rainfall in some place and more drought in others. Warmer water provides more energy for storms and thus storms have become more violent, though probably not more frequent. The tropical waters provide a less favourable environment for plankton, the bottom of the food chain, and hotter forests cause trees to die. A vicious spiral of increasing temperature and decreasing ability to abate it has been set in train. Worse, the acidification of the sea is making it impossible for shelled creatures to reproduce and for corals to survive, while the melting of polar and glacial ice is compounding the problem of sea level rise and reducing reflection of heat into space.

Anthony ended by pointing out that we are now clever enough to have recognised the problem, so perhaps Homo sapiens could justify his name, implying wisdom. But Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis disappeared with the last great ice age, so our species is far from immune to climate change. We are now faced with a decision which will have a profound influence on the environment our children and grandchildren will live in. We can choose to cut back on our consumption of food and energy, disinvest from all fossil fuels and invest heavily in non-carbon sources, wind, tidal, wave, solar and nuclear, electricity distribution and storage. All are necessary and no other major technological fix is likely on present understanding. We must learn to lead much simpler and healthier lives, or we can expect an era of mass migration, warfare, drought and flooding, with ultimately collapse of civilisations as we understand them. No-one can say when this will become obvious, but it is starting now. We can all make our contributions to a better or worse future. Do we wish our descendants to think of us as Homo stupidus?
Vanuatu typhoon
Somerset levels
Proposed care home development
at 18 Whitehouse Road, Cramond
Here is an artist’s impression, provided by the company proposing the development of a new care home in the conservation area of Cramond, showing their idea of what the care home will look like!
A 74 bedded, 3-story care home has been proposed for Cramond Village – right in the heart of the Cramond Conservation Area! Some local residents have formed the Cramond Action Group, a community based group to oppose this proposed care home development at 18 Whitehouse Road.  

The village of Cramond is one of the best preserved of the still identifiable villages in the City of Edinburgh - along with its surroundings, it has been designated a Conservation Area. The development would be shoehorned in to a narrow strip of land with very poor access – the proposed entry is on Whitehouse Road.
This image of the proposed development was provided by the developer's agents at a public meeting of the Cramond and Barnton Community Council in February.  It is clear that what is proposed is totally out of keeping with its surroundings and will not enhance or preserve the Conservation Area.  
If you would like to find out more and are keen to preserve the Cramond Conservation Area please visit their website where you can read all about the proposals and join the action group.   You may also like to check out the Cramond Action Group Facebook page.
Here are three photos which illustrate the work undertaken by the Association’s Woodlands group in improving the woods around Cramond House. We are seeing enormous progress – so do go and take a little walk through the woodlands!
Copyright © 2015 The Cramond Association, All rights reserved.

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