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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 15:42 GMT
Transport 'roadmap' for way ahead
Traffic jam
Congestion has been highlighted as a major issue
Road pricing to cut congestion by making city driving more expensive than rural routes and faster rail links are to form future transport policy.

The Scottish Executive wants to cut emissions, improve public transport, create more car-free zones and see more short journeys made by bike or on foot.

Transport Minister Tavish Scott has set out the executive's long-term transport policy for the next 20 years.

Opposition parties and some transport groups complained of a lack of detail.

Last week, a specially commissioned UK Government report by former British Airways chief Sir Rod Eddington recommended that motorists should be asked to pay to drive on the nation's road network.


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He reported that road tolls could benefit the economy to the tune of 28bn a year.

Ministers north of the border see congestion as a huge issue and they backed a UK-wide road pricing scheme.

But they are also looking at the whole shape of transport for the next 20 years.

Speed cameras may become more prevalent because enforcing the speed limit reduces fuel use and so cuts greenhouse gas emissions.

More extensive car-free zones in towns may also be encouraged to improve life for cyclists and pedestrians.

I want to see Scotland's transport reducing the impact it has on the environment, particularly carbon emissions
Tavish Scott
Transport Minister

On rail, the executive wants to look at ways of speeding up intercity links, especially between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

That could lead to the possibility of a 30-minute journey time on that route.

It is thought such a policy may help to appease business leaders demanding better connections.

Mr Scott told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that the executive was willing to follow the UK Government on introducing road tolls.

The minister said that this would mean driving becoming more expensive in cities than in rural areas.

He said: "The issue is to tackle the congestion where it exists and the figure across the United Kingdom is that 81% of all congestion is caused in and around our great cities."

Investment pledge

Mr Scott also promised to improve investment in public transport and increase efforts to cut pricing costs and travel times of journeys.

The executive currently spends 70% of the transport budget on public transport.

Launching the strategy, the transport minister added: "We want to see our towns and cities better connected, with more comfortable, reliable and faster journeys.

There is widespread public support for tough action to tackle climate change and that means we have to get serious about reducing traffic volumes
Mark Ballard
Scottish Green Party

"We want to see Scotland's businesses move their goods to market efficiently, reliably and competitively.

"And we want to reduce emissions. I want to see Scotland's transport reducing the impact it has on the environment, particularly carbon emissions."

However, the environment lobby fears there will still be major road building in the future.

The Scottish Greens' Mark Ballard warned that the executive's transport strategy was rich in "greenwash".

He added: "There is widespread public support for tough action to tackle climate change and that means we have to get serious about reducing traffic volumes.

"It cannot be ducked any longer. Instead of investing in the M74 and Aberdeen western peripheral bypass, we should invest in the public transport projects that will encourage people to leave their cars at home."

The Scottish Socialist Party claimed that offering universal free public transport was the best way to tackle traffic pollution and congestion.

Scottish National Party transport spokesman Fergus Ewing called the strategy "long on rhetoric, but short on action".

He added: "Our roads are congested and our rail infrastructure is not up to scratch, but this report fails to deal adequately with any of the challenges facing Scotland's transport system today."

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman David Davidson highlighted what he called "Scotland's number one transport need" - a new Forth crossing.

"That alone is reason enough to seriously question this document which at times amounts to little more than a wish list of future aspirations and lacks the real level of detail needed," he added.

Reaction to the plans

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