Road tolls may be needed in Scotland, say engineers

A car  drives over the Skye road bridge celebrating the end of the bridge's toll in  2004. Picture: PA

A car drives over the Skye road bridge celebrating the end of the bridge's toll in 2004. Picture: PA

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The Scottish Government should consider the use of tolls to fund crucial improvements in the country’s roads network, a report today has found.

There are “serious question marks” over the resilience Scotland’s local transport network and energy infrastructure, according to the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE).

But the only way to fund improvements to Scotland’s infrastructure is though taxation or user charges, it adds.

“The balance between the two is a choice for Government to implement through social, economic and environmental policies,” says it State of the Nation, Infrastructure 2015 report.

“However, an aging population will impact upon funding from taxation, and may compel consideration of user charges.”

The report card style raises has “major concerns” in the area of energy, down from C in 2011 to C- now, and close to the ‘at risk’ category.

It warns that all energy sources - including nuclear and on-shore gas through fracking, should be considered to address to address fears over the country’s energy shortfall which will see it become a net importer of electricity.

The report also warns that Scotland has improved its performance in the area of strategic transport infrastructure, up from a C to a B-, but local transport infrastructure is at risk with a D+ grade.

Ronnie Hunter, Chair of the State of the Nation Scotland Steering Group of ICE Scotland, said:

“Our energy, transport, flooding, water and waste systems must be resilient in the face of our changing demographics and our changing climate. Our independent, expert report analyses whether or not they are.

“Our grades show that most areas of Scotland’s infrastructure require attention. Although there is some good news, such as in the areas of waste and strategic transport, there are serious question marks over the resilience of our energy and local transport infrastructure.

“To address these particular concerns, we have called for a mature and rational debate on how we generate energy, and we are also calling for the Scottish Government to work with local authorities to address the £2 billion maintenance backlog in Scotland’s local roads.”

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