Page last updated at 23:49 GMT, Saturday, 8 August 2009 00:49 UK

New bridge funding row continues

Artist impression of the new Forth crossing
The UK government has rejected the SNP's proposal for funding the bridge

A £1bn offer from the Westminster Government to help pay for the new £2bn Forth crossing is still on the table, ministers have said.

Liam Byrne, chief secretary to the Treasury, outlined the deal in a letter to Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney.

But Holyrood ministers dismissed the plan, branding it a red herring.

Westminster has rejected an SNP plan to borrow from future budgets to fund the bridge, paying it back over 20 years.

Mr Byrne's letter acknowledged a recent "cordial" meeting between the SNP minister and UK ministers Yvette Cooper and Jim Murphy.

The letter stated: "I am willing to confirm the exceptional funding package offered by Yvette, and I am sure that if we continue to work together on that basis, we can support you constructively on this important project."

The Scottish Government accused the Treasury of rejecting common sense - and insisted the bridge would be built regardless.

"The real issue is that the Treasury should agree to our request for the Scottish Government to be able to pay for such a large, once-in-a-generation capital project over a longer period of time beyond the construction period, rather than within a few short years," said a Scottish Government spokesman.

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