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A public consultation into the future management of Scotland's tolled bridges was launched today....
A public consultation into the future management of Scotland's tolled bridges was launched today.

It will seek views on common principles that could be applied to bridge tolls in the future and give people the opportunity to comment on future management in relation to the new regional transport partnerships and the new transport agency.

The transport white paper gave a commitment to examine the issue of bridge tolls by setting up a two-phase review.

Phase one of this review, published in December last year, focused on existing tolls and saw the removal of tolls on the Skye Bridge.

Phase two will look at the future issues affecting the Erskine, Forth, and Tay bridges.

Transport minister Nicol Stephen said:

'Our bridges are a vital part of the transport network in Scotland. We want to encourage debate on issues of bridge management that will allow us to tackle the causes of pollution and congestion where this is a problem.

'The second phase will look at ideas such as single occupancy vehicles and priority lanes, exemptions to tolls and discount schemes. This will give us a better understanding of the options we need to consider before taking any future decisions on tolls, or the operation and management of these bridges.'

Phase one of the tolled bridges review looked at how tolls impact on our environmental and economic objectives of reducing pollution and congestion.

This showed that the removal of tolls on the Skye Bridge would have no adverse traffic or environmental effects and allowed ministers to take an early decision to remove the tolling regime on Skye bridge.

The traffic context and potential implications of changing or removing tolls on the other bridges were regarded as more complicated and requiring further consideration before any decisions are made.

Phase two of the review will consider the wider issues of bridge management and includes consultation on the different models available for managing the bridges, as well as objectives that can be achieved through tolling. Views will also be sought on other issues such as exemptions and discounts.

The Erskine Bridge plays a key role in the economic regeneration of West Dunbartonshire.

In the East, Forth and Tay bridges are vital links from Fife to the cities of Dundee and Edinburgh and beyond and they have significant local congestion issues needing to be addressed.

Phase two will consider specific congestion issues as well as how Erskine Bridge might help in meeting the challenge of reducing congestion at the Clyde Tunnel and the Kingston Bridge in the centre of Glasgow.

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