BRIDGE TOLLS BILL: SERIOUS INADEQUACIES EXPOSED IN FIRST PARLIAMENTARY HEARING

Officials and experts appeared before the Parliament’s Transport, Climate Change and Infrastructure Committee today for the first time to be questioned on the proposed legislation to scrap all tolls on the Forth and Tay Bridges, and ‘serious inadequacies’ were revealed in terms of its environmental and financial impact.

The legislation did not include an assessment of the increased cost of maintenance from higher traffic levels, nor an environmental assessment.  Concerns were also raised over the absence of a management plan to deal with the additional and affected traffic flows around the bridges as a result of removing all tolls. The Green Party proposal to include a system of ‘smart charges’ to promote car-sharing and public transport at peak times was also not considered as an option by officials.

A Scottish Green Party spokesperson said: “These failings are hardly surprising because Labour, Libdems, Tories and the SNP are all desperate to scrap the tolls completely to serve their populist political agenda.  As a result, the current system of traffic management will disappear, and commuters will spend more time sitting in queues.  The traffic jam will become the only traffic management system possible.

“The Government’s own experts say that the removal of the tolls will increase traffic levels and pollution yet this fact seems not to figure in any of the decision-making thus far. Although the government has clearly taken little or no account of the damaging consequences of this decision, I do hope that committee members will be prepared to consider a smart-charging scheme. It will be interesting to see if any positions change once the committee process reveals the effect that this bill will have. It is obvious that this is a seriously inadequate piece of legislation.”

See Evening News opinion piece by Green councillor, Maggie Chapman