Forth Replacement Crossing

Over the holidays, a report by Audit Scotland suggested tolls might need to be reintroduced on the Forth Road Bridge.

I can confirm that the SNP Government has no plans, intentions or ‘blue sky’ thinking about reintroducing the tolls it famously scrapped in 2008.  This is as much the case for the Forth Replacement Crossing as for the existing Bridge.

Such tolls are completely outwith our thinking in the Scottish National Party, which sees toll-free roads as an integral part of freedom of movement.  Abolishing the Forth Road Bridge tolls ended an unfair ‘tax’ faced almost uniquely by people living and working in Fife, as opposed to other parts of Scotland, and has made Fife a more attractive location to live and for business investment.

Suggestions that tolls might be used to cover the cost of the Forth Replacement Crossing are based on a misunderstanding of how the bridge is being funded. The capital funding for the project comes through a block grant, while on-going maintenance of the road network has its own separate budget.

The good news is that the Forth Replacement Crossing is on target for completion by 2016, has come in significantly under budget and will provide a welcome boost to the Fife economy.  It will be a more reliable crossing that the existing Bridge under adverse weather conditions, a phenomenon we have been all too aware of in Fife these last few weeks.

 The above was originally written for Bill’s Dunfermline Press column. This version may vary slightly.


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