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Workplace parking charge supporters lobby politicians for change

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

INTRODUCING a workplace parking levy could help Scotland cut emissions, improve public health and raises additional cash for public transport, supporters have claimed.

Plans to give councils the power to raise additional funds this way have been slammed by some opposition politicians at Holyrood.

But now environmental campaigners and others have joined forces in a bid to persuade Holyrood to back such a scheme.

It comes after Finance Secretary Derek Mackay pledged SNP MSPs would back a Green amendment to transport legislation that would allow local authorities to bring in a levy for their area.

While supporters say it is “highly likely” the charges will be “confined to a small number of local authorities” they insist it is right councils have “the power to shape the transport network that is right for their area”.

A dozen organisations, including WWF Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland, have sent a letter to the leaders of the five parties at Holyrood urging them to get behind the scheme

They argued: “There is a clear demand for step change in Scotland’s transport system and a move away from a dependence on cars.

“Air pollution, which is primarily from transport, is responsible for the early deaths of 2,500 people in Scotland each year.

“It causes heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory problems.

“A workplace parking levy has the opportunity to deliver the dual-benefits of reducing emissions whilst creating investment in transport.”

The signatories of the letter, who also include Professor Tom Rye, the director of the Transport Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University, said while they had different aims and objectives they all “share a common aspiration for a safer, fairer, cleaner and healthier Scotland, where more of us walk, cycle, and use public transport”.

A workplace parking levy in Nottingham has been a “notable success”, they added, raising more than £25 million for improvements in transport infrastructure in the area in its first three years.

At the same time carbon emissions there fell by a third, with more people now choosing to make journeys by public transport.

Representatives from the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, the Confederation of Passenger Transport, Transform Scotland, Get Glasgow Moving, Go Bike, Living Streets for Scotland, Paths for All and Sustrans Scotland have also signed the letter.

Green transport spokesman John Finnie, who will put forward amendments to the Transport (Scotland) Bill to give councils the powers, welcomed their support.

He said: “The other opposition parties’ attempts to mislead and spread falsehoods are rightly being challenged by campaigners who clearly see public health and environmental benefits by giving local councils this choice.

“The hysterical reaction of the Tories was predictable but for Labour and Lib Dem MSPs to suddenly oppose an idea they used to support and which their councillors have called for reeks of opportunism.

“They may have given up on empowering local communities but the Scottish Greens have not.”