The workplace parking levy could be a “key tool” in encouraging more people to leave their cars at home, the transport minister has said.
Jenny Gilruth spoke out as guidance for local councils was published detailing how they could introduce the charge.
Under the scheme, local authorities will be able to decide “key elements” of any workplace parking levy that is introduced – including the area in which it would apply, the amount of the charge and on local exemptions.
However, parking places reserved for Blue Badge holders will be exempt from any schemes, as well as parking places at hospices and certain parking places at NHS sites.
Councils who want to introduce a workplace parking levy would first have to carry out a consultation and impact assessment.
Only after that could a charge, which would be levied on employers who provide parking spaces for their workers, be introduced.
The Conservatives said publication of the guidance sees the “SNP’s hated workplace parking tax coming one step closer to being reality”.
Transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “Scottish businesses and their hard-working staff are dreading the introduction of this scheme – and many are wondering how they are going to cope with the potentially exorbitant charges in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.”
He added: “In light of the SNP’s utter failure to maintain ScotRail services, this punishing tax looks even more senseless and unfair.
“As long as the SNP fail to provide Scotland with a public transport system that is affordable and fit for purpose, punitive measures like this will have no environmental benefit.”
Ms Gilruth said: “The workplace parking levy is a key tool which empowers local councils in encouraging people out of their cars and onto more sustainable modes of transport.
“This is vitally important if we are to reach a 20% reduction in car kilometres by 2030.”
She added that revenue raised from such schemes would have to go towards supporting policies in local transport strategies, saying the levy “allows local authorities to raise finance and invest it according to local need”.
The minister continued: “The levy can also support improvements in public or active transport, making it more attractive and therefore encouraging individuals to leave their cars at home.
“Providing guidance so that local authorities can make use of their discretionary powers to implement a workplace parking levy scheme not only devolves more responsibility to local government – a key priority for the Scottish Government – it also supports the vision and priorities set out in our National Transport Strategy, to create a fairer, greener transport system for everyone in Scotland to share and benefit from.”
Gail Macgregor, environment and economy spokeswoman for the local government body Cosla, stressed it would be “for local authorities to decide, in consultation with communities, if a levy is appropriate in their area”.
She added: “As we look to deliver emission reduction as quickly as possible, it is important that councils have as many tools as possible at their disposal. It will then be for the local democratic process to decide how these tools should be utilised.
“The levy also does not sit in isolation from other policies and should be viewed alongside other plans for encouraging a modal shift away from car use.”
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