Nicola Sturgeon has insisted she does not support the reintroduction of tolls on Scotland’s roads as her party was today accused of “hammering drivers”.
SNP environmental policies are under scrutiny ahead of next month’s council elections after local leaders floated plans for congestion charges in big cities.
Commuters driving into Edinburgh could face a congestion charge in the future under a plan backed by local Nationalist candidates in the capital.
And Glasgow council leader Susan Aitken has previously suggested there could be a need to cap the number of cars passing through the city along the M8.
The Scottish Government has also handed local authorities powers to introduce a workplace parking levy in a bid to reduce the number of people driving to work in built-up areas.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Douglas Ross accused the SNP of wanting to force “Scotland’s economy into the slow lane”.
The Scottish Conservatives leader called on the First Minister to rule out the introduction of roads tolls and to abandon the workplace parking levy.
“Of course, all parties agree on the need to do more to meet our climate change targets,” Ross said.
“But in many industries, and across rural areas especially, people still need their cars. And right now there could not be a worse time to further hike the cost of driving.
“Where are in the middle of a cost of living crisis – yet Nicola Sturgeon wants to tax people off the road by hammering anyone who owns a car.
“The people who will be hit hardest will not the wealthiest – but orfdinary working people who need theur cars and are already struggling with cost of livinmg.
“I don’t support road tolls but I support local councils being empowered to consider the tough issues they face,” she said.
“Yes, people do continue to need their cars – particularly in rural and remote parts of our country, which is why this government has invested so heavily in maintaining and improving our trunk road and motorway network.
“We’ve delivered improvements right across the country to meet the needs of all of the population – including the Queensferry Crossing, the Aberdeen western peripheral route, the M8, M73, M74 and we will continue to do so.
Sturgeon added: “The final point I want to make – and I know it’s not one Douglas Ross will want to face up to – is what is hammering people, including motorists, is the Tory-created cost of living crisis.”
The SNP in Edinburgh last week said it would press ahead with a previously-floated new version of the congestion charging scheme that was rejected in a local referendum in 2005.
The revised plans would see only drivers from outside Edinburgh being charged to enter the capital.
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