Road pricing ‘might be needed to hit green targets’

Road pricing and workplace parking charges need to be considered in order to meet targets to cut emissions, according to the public spending watchdog.

Auditor General for Scotland Robert Black told Holyrood’s public audit committee the country faces “real challenges” in meeting the “ambitious” target to cut 1990-level emissions by 42 per cent by 2020.

Audit Scotland’s report said the government “will need to consider introducing new policies that it has previously ruled out, such as a road-pricing scheme and charges for workplace parking”.

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Road pricing schemes introduced elsewhere have included road and bridge tolls and congestion charges. But the SNP administration has abolished bridge tolls and parking charges at publicly owned hospitals, while plans to introduce a congestion charge in Edinburgh in 2005 were rejected by nearly three to one in a ballot of residents.

Audit Scotland said such schemes had to be reconsidered in order to meet emission targets.

Mr Black told the committee yesterday: “There is a wide range of initiatives designed to affect transport – we have been talking about one particular area which is encouraging cycling – which have been adopted or are in the process of being adopted. To make a further step-change in this area, policies that have perhaps not been attractive in the past might have to be considered.”