Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh office parking plan to help cut air pollution

Car exhaust Image copyright Spl

Companies could be charged for letting employees park outside offices as part of the council's campaign to cut air pollution in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh City Council's transport and environment committee agreed to investigate setting up a workplace parking levy.

It will "set out the argument and rationale" for introducing a scheme.

Conservatives opposed the plan and asked for a balanced report on the positive and negatives of the levy.

It could also include customer parking.

Nottingham was the first place in the UK to introduce a levy in 2010 and the SNP-Labour administration in Edinburgh wants to follow suit.

'Many benefits'

In Nottingham, businesses are charged £402 each year per space and the money goes towards transport improvements, including extending the city's tram network.

Some employers may choose to reclaim the cost of the levy from their employees.

The scheme would be likely to follow the example set in Nottingham where all organisations and premises with more than 10 parking places are liable for the charge.

The council would need permission to introduce the levy from the Scottish government, with a route identified through an amendment to the Transport Bill.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The levy would be introduced in Edinburgh

Lesley Macinnes, City of Edinburgh Council's transport and environment convener, said: "We're still at a very early stage and our next steps will involve setting out an argument and rationale for introducing a workplace parking levy in order to seek the necessary legislative changes from the Scottish government to introduce such a measure.

"However, we're confident that introducing a workplace parking levy would achieve many benefits - reducing the number of car journeys made into the city and, in turn, lowering congestion, improving air quality and encouraging active travel amongst all those who work here.

"This would very much be part of our broader ambitions to transform the way we use the city centre, including the introduction of a Low Emission Zone and proposals for city centre transformation."

'Setting an assumption'

It is hoped a levy would raise about £9m a year to pay for improvements to Edinburgh's transport network, but council officers said the annual revenue generated could be as much as £15m.

Nick Cook, Conservative councillor for the Morningside ward in Edinburgh, said: "We are almost setting an assumption that the council is in favour of introducing a workplace parking levy."

Scott Douglas, Conservative councillor for Murrayfield and Corstorphine in Edinburgh, said: "It seems like we are putting the cart before the horse.

"I think we should take time to consider both pros and cons with it. I also have concerns over business engagement."

Green councillor Chas Booth asked the committee whether there was "an opportunity to include customer parking as well" in the scheme.

He said: "Some recognise it as a missing link in sustainable transport."

The committee agreed to include looking at a "wider non-residential parking levy which could also cover customer parking spaces".

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