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John Morrison reports for BBC Scotland
"Tolls would increase by 17.5% next year"
 real 28k

John Morrison
"The commission is not in the habit of losing cases like this"
 real 28k

Automobile Association spokesman Neil Gregg
"We think this an outrageous example of European bureaucracy gone mad"
 real 28k

Myrna Scott Moncrieff
Skye and Kyle Against Tolls spokeswoman explains how the plan will hit islanders
 real 28k

Tuesday, 30 November, 1999, 19:53 GMT
VAT threat to bridge tolls
Toll booths Tolls would have to rise under EU rules

Scottish motorists could face increased charges for using toll bridges because of legal moves by the European Commission.

The commission has taken the UK Government to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for not applying VAT to road tolls.

If the government loses the case, tolls would increase by 17.5% on four Scottish bridges - including the controversial Skye Bridge.

UK tolls
Skye Bridge - 4.70 winter single/5.70 summer single
Severn Bridge 4.20 westbound only
Humber Bridge 1.90
Tamar Bridge 1
Dartford Bridge 1
Forth Bridge 80p northbound only
Tay Bridge 80p southbound only
Cleddau Bridge 75p
Clifton Bridge 20p
Aldwark Bridge 8p
The European Commission wants to harmonise VAT so that all member states pay similar taxes.

It has told the European Court that the UK Government has not fulfilled its obligation under European Union law.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Executive said it did not accept tolls should be liable to VAT.

However, the commission has a high success rate in cases of this type.

If the commission wins, it poses another problem for the Scottish Executive.

'Another tax'

It has pledged to freeze tolls on the Skye Bridge, which have been staunchly opposed by islanders, for the duration of the contract.

Automobile Association spokesman Neil Grieg said VAT would be another tax on the motorist, particularly in rural areas.

Skye Bridge tolls Skye tolls have always been contentious
He said: "We think this an outrageous example of European bureaucracy gone mad.

"On the one hand the European community is giving regional development aid to Scotland for tourism and local development but this move will see Scottish motorists paying some of that money back."

Mr Grieg said Greece, France and Ireland were also challenging the levying of VAT on tolls.

"It's interesting that if this move does go ahead it might cost Scottish motorists 30 to drive to the south of France, for instance, so there will be effects across the whole of Europe because of this ruling," he added.

Drivers crossing the Skye Bridge would have to pay an extra 1 and coaches and lorries would have to pay about 5 more.

Tolls on the Erskine Bridge would increase by 10p and by 14p on the Forth and Tay bridges.

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See also:
30 Nov 99 |  UK
Motorists may face EU toll hike
07 Sep 99 |  Scotland
Drivers 'face more toll costs'
04 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Roads plans prompt mixed reactions
13 Jul 99 |  UK Politics
Labour traffic plans 'highway robbery'
16 Sep 99 |  Scotland
Tories in drive against road tolls
03 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Motorway tolls U-turn welcomed
04 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Green light for roads projects

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