Water Environment

A major river restoration project was officially launched on the 6th June, paving the way for future housing and other development in the Edinburgh BioQuarter.

The £11m Niddrie Burn Restoration Project saw 1.8km of the Niddrie Burn realigned to form a river corridor, with landscaping, footbridges and a flood storage area within parkland. 

This complex engineering project, delivered on budget and jointly funded by the City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Enterprise (£5.77m of the total budget), also required a number of public utilities to be diverted, including 1km of Scottish Water trunk sewer, 700metres of water trunk main and 240 metres of Scottish Power cables.

A new public transport link road has also been created and came into use earlier this week. This £2.75m road consists of 1km of carriageway connecting Little France Drive with Greendykes Road, with a 200m section that forms a bus lane for public transport, taxis and emergency vehicles only, enforced by a bus lane camera. 

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Transport and Environment Convener, said: "Today is an important milestone for this fast-growing part of Edinburgh; the effects of this work will be enormously beneficial to the whole area. This complex engineering project, delivered on budget, has created a wealth of opportunities for new homes and new development in the BioQuarter. The new Link Road will also make it much easier for hospital staff, patients and visitors to travel to and from the Royal Infirmary and we're looking forward to seeing a new bus service start operating on this road in the near future."

Scottish Enterprise Life, Chemical Sciences and Company Growth Director, Rhona Allison, added: "Scottish Enterprise has jointly managed the Niddrie Burn restoration works and the extension to Little France Drive as part of the BioQuarter programme. Our focus is to help grow the Scottish economy by investing in projects that will create employment and enhance Scotland's reputation as an attractive place to live, work and visit. The BioQuarter is being transformed by its partners into a top global destination for life science R&D, and effective transport provision is key to its success.

"We hope to double the working population at Little France by 2029 which will attract considerable private investment at the BioQuarter: today's announcement builds on the continuing delivery of world class facilities that will maintain Scotland's high profile in this critical industry sector."

Hugh Rutherford, Chair of the Edinburgh Business Forum, said: “Development and regeneration is one of the key elements of the Economic Strategy that the City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Business Forum are committed to delivering over the next four years. This is a great example of partnership working that is going to have a massive impact on this area of Edinburgh.”

The link road project also incorporates a 2m footpath and a 4m combined footpath / cycleway and street lighting.

Archaeological surveys were carried out as part of the project and the remains of an 18th century ice house were discovered among other finds from the former Niddrie Marischal Estate.

Design of the RIE Link Road was by City of Edinburgh Council, while Jacobs Engineering were responsible for design and site supervision of the Niddrie Burn Restoration Project. The main contractor on the project was Carillion.

A competition was run by the Portobello and Craigmillar Neighbourhood Partnership to choose a new piece of public art for the area; details of this project will be unveiled soon.