NEARLY twice as many Scots would prefer the government to repair the existing Forth Road Bridge rather than build an entirely new structure.
A YouGov poll commissioned by the Green party has found that 57 per cent of people wanted to repair the road crossing, compared with just 34 per cent who believe it should be replaced.
The survey comes as Scottish ministers prepare to introduce legislation to build a completely new crossing over the Forth, following surveys which showed the existing bridge was so weakened that traffic would soon have to be limited.
Faced with such evidence, ministers have said that doing nothing "was not an option". A new bridge, costing up to 2.3 billion, will be constructed, after which the existing crossing will remain open for public transport and bicycles.
Under government plans, the new bridge will be open by 2016. The Greens argue that for as little as 100 million the crossing could be repaired and maintained. Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: "
Greens believe we do need a road crossing over the Forth, and there already is one. There's still time for Scottish ministers to listen to public opinion and fix the existing bridge for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the disruption."
Lawrence Marshall, a former chair of the Forth Estuary Transport Authority, claimed MSPs had supported the scheme for a new bridge "in a bit of a panic" without properly considering the possibility of fixing the existing crossing.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "This is a misleading finding, because we are building a replacement crossing as well as utilising the existing bridge so that it can become a dedicated public transport corridor, which will be positive for the environment."