CONGESTION CHARGING in Edinburgh is set to move a step closer as the Scottish Executive decides this month on whether to approve the scheme in principle.
Edinburgh City Council believes that congestion charging is the only way available to reduce the impact of traffic on the city and hopes to make it a reality by 2005.
It is confident that the Executive will back the scheme which it claims will both reduce car use and fund improvements in public transport.
'We would be disappointed if we didn't get approval in principle, ' said ECC project director Alex Macalay. 'What we are applying for is not just congestion charging, but an ambitious, integrated transport policy.'
The council plans to spend £844M on transport projects within the city by 2011. This will include a new tram network, more frequent bus services, new suburban rail lines and stations, better interchanges, a ring of park and ride sites linked to the tram network, and an increase in spending on road maintenance.
This assumes that between 35% and 63% of funding is from the public sector, with road user charging generating the rest.
Charges could range from £1 for an all day scheme to £3 a day at peak times only.
The favoured charging mechanism is a city centre cordon with a once-only daily charge enforced by automatic number plate recognition cameras.