Authority accused of caving in to car lobby

The Scottish government has quietly dropped a series of plans that would have reduced emissions from road traffic and potentially boosted cycling in the country, reports the Herald, Scotland.

Had the mooted plans been implemented,  car parking charges at work, lower speed limits and a road-use payment scheme would have helped Scotland meet its climate change obligations. But with any mention of such policies failing to appear in its latest draft transport policy document, the Scottish government has been accused by environmentalists of caving in to lobby pressure and abandoning attempts to reduce car pollution.

Some of the details of those plans were revealed in a leaked document which showed the government was considering charging workers £300 per year to park at work, raising street parking charges by 50%, reducing the speed limit from 70mph to 60 mph and introducing a 5p-per-kilometre road-pricing scheme.

Governments around the world are known to “leak” news of potentially unpopular policies and forge ahead, shelve, or drop them depending on the reaction. On hearing about the possible new legislation the reaction from Scottish companies and the car lobby was, according to the Herald, one of “rage.”

Dr Jillian Anable, an expert from the Centre for Transport Research at the University of Aberdeen, who helped advise the government, told the Herald that higher parking charges and lower speed limits were needed to ensure car emissions decreased.

Colin Howden, the director of the sustainable transport campaign, Transform Scotland, told the paper: “Without action on transport, there is little hope of Scotland meeting its legal requirements under the Climate Change Act.”

However, a spokeswoman for Transport Scotland insisted those obligations could still be met.

“Parliament is now scrutinising the draft report on proposals and policies, alongside the draft budget, and has the opportunity to offer views on the proposals, policies and funding options,” she said.

Transport is a major generator of greenhouse gases in Scotland, adding 14.4 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere in 2008; 26% of all Scotland's emissions. Approximately 69% of transport emissions come from road vehicles.