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Charities ask Scottish government to use Vehicle Excise Duty funds for cycling infrastructure

Argue that road improvements in Scotland shouldn’t involve increasing capacity

A group of charities in Scotland has said that part of the cash raised by Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) should be put towards walking and cycling infrastructure, reports the BBC. As well as putting money towards local roads and footways, the seven charities would also like to see buses and trains better linked up with walking and cycling networks.

Among the charities to make the call are WWF Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Transform Scotland, whose director, Colin Howden, said:

"Vehicle excise duty is a tax on pollution but the UK government's plan in England will see it used to increase traffic and pollution.

"We have an opportunity to do things differently in Scotland. Investing in a repair fund for our footways and local roads – where most everyday journeys are actually made – will benefit pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike without increasing road capacity."

Road tax was abolished in 1937 and replaced by Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). The proceeds of this have always gone into the general Treasury fund, but earlier in the month George Osborne announced reforms which will now see all money raised earmarked for road network improvements.

Osborne said he would consult with the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations on “how the money is allocated there”.

A spokesman said that the Scottish government had written to seek clarity and greater detail about the VED reforms following Osborne’s announcement. "To date, limited information has been passed to us on this issue.”

The other charities involved in making the call are Paths for All, Living Streets Scotland and Sustrans Scotland, whose national director John Lauder, commented:

"It is good that in Scotland we have clear government support for walking and cycling. We've made big strides but there's much still to do.

"Continued investment in cycling and walking, and better integration of active travel with public transport, will enable more people to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys while reducing congestion and making Scotland's communities more attractive and liveable places."

In 2013, the Reform Scotland think tank called for vehicle excise duty and fuel duty to be abolished in favour of a pay-as-you-drive system. Such a scheme would see drivers paying according to which roads they used and when.

Reform Scotland's director, Geoff Mawdsley, told the BBC that existing charging practices promoted congestion and were unfair on low-mileage motorists as well as those in more remote areas. He felt that a pay-as-you drive system would encourage people to drive at cheaper times or on cheaper roads.

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