Road pricing is likely to be necessary for Scotland in the future but cannot be delivered holistically until the Scottish Government has further powers, its transport minister has said.
Speaking at Road Expo Scotland this week, Graeme Dey (pictured) was asked whether road pricing is a serious proposition as a replacement for declining fuel duty.
He replied: 'Somewhere along the line it’s going to have to form part of the conversation about how we address the challenges we face.'
He added: 'I don’t think we’re quite there yet. The other issue at the moment is that we don’t, in Scotland, hold all the powers required to do this in a holistic manner.
‘As you know, we aspire to hold those powers, and quite quickly. In the meantime, there needs to be a proper, grown-up discussion with the UK Government about this, and with wider society because the idea, coming out of a pandemic that a further taxation burden would be imposed will be pretty unpopular.'
Mr Dey was also asked to comment on the future of road building in Scotland in the light of efforts to achieve net zero carbon.
He told visitors: ‘All the politicians in the Scottish Parliament came together to pass highly challenging emissions targets, and with that decision comes a responsibility. What happens thereafter is that as constituency politicians there is a demand locally for new roads, dualling, whatever, to be delivered, and certainly that’s okay. However, we as politicians have got to get away from that and we need to show some commitment on this issue.’
The minister added: ‘Just to be clear, we will be building new roads if you like, in the context of the A9. The A9 will be dualled. I was visiting that yesterday. We are committed to that. We have been committed to a solution to the A83, the Rest and Be Thankful, which I am told by experts is the biggest engineering challenge we’ve ever face in Scotland.
‘And we are currently reviewing what we do with the A96 – there was previously, if you remember a commitment to dual it. When I look at what we actually do with that [there are] a series of improvements that will be made, come what may.’
He concluded: ‘So yes, going forward, in the medium to long term, what you will see is a focus more on improving existing routes, with bypasses, safety improvements, but also for the vital issue of road maintenance, because every country in the world faces an issue with its backlog of road maintenance. So I expect that is what the focus will be on going forward, as we tackle the climate emergency.’