Plan to halt bridges toll faces criticism

Ministers were urged last week to introduce measures to increase bus, rail and cycle use as MSPs backed plans to abolish tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges.

Although the Scottish parliament's transport committee has issued a report that supports the scheme, which it estimates will cost £87 million over the next four years, it voiced fears on the environmental effects.

"Our committee is concerned that the removal of the bridge tolls will result in a negative environmental impact, particularly in terms of increased carbon emissions," said committee member and Green MSP Patrick Harvie, whose party is the only one to oppose the scrapping of tolls.

"We also accept that more congestion and longer journey times are expected. We have therefore strongly recommended in our report that measures are put in place in an effort to mitigate these negative effects."

The policy was an election manifesto commitment by the Scottish National Party and is likely to obtain Royal Assent in the new year. After this the £1 Forth Bridge fee and 80p Tay Bridge charge will be scrapped.

It also spells the end of the £5 million toll booths installed on the Forth Bridge last year. The Forth Estuary Transport Authority, which operates the bridge, confirmed that a controversial canopy is also likely to be removed following complaints from South Queensferry residents that it blocks river views.

The canopy directs traffic into lanes and had to be granted retrospective planning permission after it was erected in the wrong place.

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