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Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK

UK: Scotland

Drivers 'face more toll costs'

The SNP says motorists must pay for toll equipment

Do you agree with the principle of road tolls? E-mail us your views. Read your answers here.

Motorists could face fines if they do not install and maintain electronic equipment in their cars for motorway tolls, according to the Scottish National Party.

The Scottish Executive has announced proposals to introduce toll charges with an experiment due to get under way on the M8 near Edinburgh next year.

BBC Scotland Chief Political Correspondent John Morrison on the tolls proposals
But the SNP has warned the plans, to be introduced as a means of cutting congestion and raising revenue, would lead to more costs for motorists.

The party said that in addition to paying tolls, motorists would be required to buy the equipment and make sure it was working properly.

Nationalists allege the executive's consultation document makes it clear it is the car owners' responsibility to have the toll equipment and that should they fail to do so then penalties will be introduced.

[ image: SNP favours
SNP favours "congestion charges"
The party's Shadow Transport Spokesman, Kenny McAskill said: "It appears to us that they are putting the duty on the registered keeper to install it in the car and thereafter to interfere with it in any way.

"What about the installation charges? We really have no idea how much this new high-tech equipment that Labour propose will cost.

"Our view is that this is a double whammy. First of all you are going to get tolled to go on the roads and secondly you are going to have to pay to install the equipment that is going to charge you."

Mr McAskill added that while the SNP was in favour of "congestion charges" in urban areas it was maintaining opposition to tolls on major arterial highways. such as the M8 where road tolling tests will be carried out next year.

Consultation stage

A Poll on the Tolls: Drivers give their reaction to the proposals
However, Transport Minister Sarah Boyack stressed that the issue of road tolling was still at the consultation stage.

She said: "We've said in our consultation paper that we're looking for people's views."

[ image: Transport Minister Sarah Boyack:
Transport Minister Sarah Boyack: "Looking for views"
Ms Boyack said the Scottish Executive had decided to test tolling at Hermiston Gait next year to discover how useful it would be in a Scottish situation.

But she said the aim was to find an "effective and fair system" and no decision had been taken on whether should be charged for the equipment.

She said: "What Kenny McAskill is doing is indulging in selective quotations and he is misrepresenting what we are suggesting at the moment.

"We're discussing the principles at the moment, we're seeking views. It's going to be 2004 or 2005 before any schemes come online."

Ms Boyack said the government would not be able to proceed unless there was public support for a particular scheme.

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