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Scottish bill includes tough measures to ease congestion

SOME OF THE most draconian traffic restraint measures yet seen in Europe are set to be included in Scotland's new transport bill, leading transport engineers claimed this week.

First minister Donald Dewar said the proposed legislation was one of the most important in the group of eight bills earmarked for the Scottish parliament's first session which starts next month.

Details have yet to be revealed, but the bill will include primary legislation for three traffic restraining measures, seen as crucial revenue streams for implementing planned integrated transport initiatives.

By next summer, Scotland will be the first European country to have created powers to impose traffic congestion charges - a city cordon or area licensing - plus motorway tolling and a levy on workplace parking.

Professor David Begg, director of the centre for transport policy at Robert Gordon University, said: 'This bill offers Scotland the biggest investment in transport since the Victorian era.'

Edinburgh could be the first to impose congestion charges, with a toll cordon around the city raising at least £50M a year. The city council's development director George Hazel sees such income as the only likely way a planned £500M package of transport initiatives, including guided busways, reopened rail lines and even a metro, could be started in the foreseeable future.

But for congestion charges to receive essential public acceptance, engineers insist all revenue raised must be ring fenced for local transport schemes, some of which should be operational before charges are imposed.

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