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Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2007, 07:01 GMT
Campaigners make road charge call
Traffic levels have increased by almost 20% since 1994
Environmentalists have called on politicians to explore the use of congestion charging to tackle Scotland's transport problems.

The plea comes after the extension of the London Congestion Charge, which it is credited with cutting city traffic.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland said air pollution was harming the health of the public.

Last year, a Scottish Executive study concluded that road tolls were unlikely to be introduced in the near future.

FoE Scotland claimed congestion charges and better public transport could be the solution.

Chief executive Duncan McLaren said: "Building new roads and bridges is not the answer. They will simply lead to more traffic and more congestion.

We need measures to get people out of their cars and on to safe, convenient and affordable alternatives
Duncan McLaren
Friends of the Earth Scotland

"We need a package of measures to get people out of their cars and on to safe, convenient and affordable alternatives.

"This means greater investment in public transport, safer streets for cycling and walking, better land-use planning, and the introduction of a fair system of road-user or congestion charging."

The executive report said a previous 'No' vote on congestion charging in Edinburgh and the time and money required to develop a national congestion charging scheme suggested that such schemes were only a distant possibility.

Ministers have pledged to stabilise the volume of traffic on Scotland's roads by 2021.

Scheme extended

In 2003 transport accounted for almost a fifth of all Scottish greenhouse gas emissions.

The amount of traffic in Scotland has grown by almost 20% since in 1994.

This weekend marked the fourth anniversary of the London Congestion Charge.

On Monday morning, the scheme was extended to the west of the city, covering most of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.

Air quality

Mayor Ken Livingstone said the amount of traffic entering central London during charging hours had been cut by about 20%.

It has also increased bus and bicycle use as well as cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

However, a spokesman for the National Alliance Against Tolls Scotland (NAATS) claimed the London scheme had not reduced congestion or improved air quality.

"The people of Edinburgh saw through these myths two years ago when we had the toll poll. The people of Scotland will not fall for these myths now," he said.

New Forth crossing plans approved
14 Feb 07 |  Edinburgh and East
Lib Dems plan to revamp car taxes
18 Feb 07 |  Scotland
Edinburgh rejects congestion plan
22 Feb 05 |  Scotland

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