Parking levy will help push alternatives to car commute
BUSINESSES which provide car parking spaces for their staff could be subject to a new workplace parking levy aimed at reducing reliance on cars.
Money raised by any scheme set up under the new laws, which form part of the Transport Bill going through the Scottish parliament, would be reinvested in sustainable transport.
Campaigners welcomed the news that MSPs voted in favour of giving powers to councils to implement the levy as the rural economy and connectivity committee passed an amendment during stage two of the bill.
A survey by the committee found a majority of people supported the workplace parking levy proposals, largely to help reduce air pollution and to encourage more walking and cycling.
Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie proposed the amendments and he said they were "a power not a duty" for councils to use as a tool in the fight against the climate emergency.
Gavin Thomson, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Road transport was recently revealed to be Scotland’s single biggest source of climate emissions, so it is very welcome that the committee agree that they should not continue to reinforce our current transport system that gives undue priority to the car, particularly in our towns and cities.
"The Scottish Government also finally admitted it will miss its 2020 cycling target by a shocking margin. More politicians must now join the dots and put in the energy and resources required into changing our transport habits.
“Our air pollution problems, climate emissions and even our sedentary lifestyles are in part due to the stranglehold the car has on how people in Scotland move around. Proportionate measures such as a workplace parking levy can help councils develop locally appropriate plans for tackling the enormous climate pollution coming from our travel choices."
A similar levy was introduced in Nottingham and applies to workplaces with more than 11 parking spaces. The charge is paid by employers, who decide whether to pass it on to staff who use the parking spaces.
The revenue generated has been reinvested in public transport improvements for the city, such as contributing to a tram extension.
Mr Thomson added: “The workplace parking levy has a record of delivering significant improvements to travel habits, bringing much-needed investment to transport infrastructure and creating healthier places to live and work.
"It is an optional power being offered to councils. It is clearly not right for every area, but city councils in Scotland dealing with congestion, insufficient resources for public transport and illegal levels of air pollution should now investigate how they might use these powers.
“People should have the opportunity and freedom to travel by greener methods, to feel safe walking and cycling, and to choose public transport that is reliable and affordable."
Colin Howden, director of Transform Scotland, said: “Well done to the Greens’ John Finnie and the SNP members of the parliament’s transport committee for getting the workplace parking levy amendment into the Transport Bill.
"The workplace parking levy is successful in Nottingham, a host of English towns and cities have advanced plans for levy schemes, and Edinburgh and Glasgow city councils are both also keen to promote schemes."