Bill paves way for transport projects

A national transport agency and five regional transport partnerships (RTPs) will be set up under the Scottish Executive's Transport Bill, introduced to the Scottish parliament last week.

Transport minister Nicol Stephen said: "We are investing £3 billion over the next decade on major capital schemes such as rail links to Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports, the extension of the M74 and a bypass for Aberdeen. It is vital that we gear up now for these big projects."

Under the bill, RTPs in the Highlands and Islands, north-east Scotland, Central and Tayside, south-east Scotland and the west of Scotland would have a strategic planning role and take control of functions such as parking enforcement and managing bus service contracts.

Full details of the role of the national transport agency, which will be directly accountable to ministers, will be relased shortly.

Friends of the Earth Scotland head of research Dan Barlow warned: "There is a real danger that the RTPs will become dominated by business groups and others who want more environmentally destructive projects such as motorways."

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