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Abolition of bridge tolls


Tolls on both the Forth and Tay bridges will be abolished on February 11, 2008, it was announced today.

Royal Assent has been given for the Bill and a Commencement Order signed today by Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson means that the Act can now come into force from 0:01 on Monday, February 11.

The date has been agreed with both FETA and the Tay Bridge authority who are putting plans in place for safe commencement and additional measures to minimise any disruption to road users.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"We said when we came into power that we would bring an end to tolls on the Forth and Tay bridges, and less than nine months into Government, that is exactly what we have done.

"Today marks the end of years of injustice for the people of Fife, Tayside and the Lothians, and I am delighted that in just a few days time travellers across the bridges will no longer have to pay tolls.

"There will now be equality on all bridges in Scotland and I am sure this announcement will be welcomed by people across the country."

The Forth Estuary Transport Authority and Tay Road Bridge Joint Board remain responsible for managing the bridges. Both will put in place measures to implement the abolition of tolls, and to ensure that traffic continues to flow smoothly and safely.

FETA Convener Tony Martin said:

"FETA welcomes the abolition of tolls on grounds of fairness. Confirmation of the date means we can now press ahead with the practical arrangements. Our preparations are well in hand and we're eager to move into this new era.

"Looking to the future I'm excited about the prospects for the Forth Road Bridge. There are challenges, but there's no doubt we have a first-class team looking after the bridge whose dedication is second to none."

Dundee's Lord Provost John Letford, who also chairs the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board said:

"The joint board has consistently argued for the abolition of the tolls as people in Dundee and Fife were being unfairly penalised. The decision to scrap the tolls is widely welcomed by the travelling public and our local business community.

"Removing the tolls will also bring benefits in reducing congestion and pollution in Dundee as bridge traffic will no longer have to queue at the toll booths during the evening rush hour."

The Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Act 2008 is the first primary legislation of the new Government. It was passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament on December 20, 2007.

The Act achieves three main objectives: it removes the ability to charge and collect tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges; it removes a legislative deadline for the Tay Board to repay all its debts by 2016; and it repeals obsolete legislation relating to the Erskine Bridge.

It is standard practice for there to be a two month period between Royal Assent and an Act coming into force. However, Scottish Ministers have put in place an accelerated process to fast track abolishing tolls.

The Forth Estuary Transport Authority and the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board remain responsible for the management and operation of the bridges. Funding for day to day running costs and long term capital works will be provided by direct grants from the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government has also provided a one-off grant of 14.8 million to allow the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board to repay all of its outstanding loans at January 31, 2008.


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