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20 December 2007

S3M-1023 Climate Change Bill [Closing Speech]

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 20 December 2007

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]
... ... ...
Climate Change Bill

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Trish Godman): The next item of business is a debate on motion S3M-1023, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, on the United Kingdom Climate Change Bill.

16:03
... ... ...
16:23

Stewart Stevenson:





The legislative consent motion is unusual in its extent. Key elements of the bill are within the legislative competence of this Parliament, but we must work with our UK partners, within the framework of European Union initiatives and with everyone throughout the world on this subject. I will deal with one or two of the points that have been raised and will try to get them all in.

David Stewart correctly said that climate change knows no boundaries. When our CO2 goes into the atmosphere, it is almost certainly blown across the North Sea to Norway, and what is in our atmosphere comes from other countries. We have a shared responsibility so, in seeking to share responsibility with the Westminster Government, we are taking a pragmatic and proper view of what we should do.

The comment was made that the bill does not cover emissions from aviation. That is true, but we are supporting the UK's attempts to ensure that aviation is included in emissions trading throughout Europe and we will continue to do that. I spoke to Jim Fitzpatrick about that and, in particular, developed with him some of the issues that there would be for smaller propeller-driven aircraft that run a number of our lifeline services. With Westminster, we will continue to track changes to the bill as they are made.

Alex Johnstone—I think, subject to confirmation—said that I was the first SNP member, as an Opposition spokesperson, to propose to our group that we should support a Sewel motion, which we did. I recall that I spoke on that. We are as pragmatic as the Government as we were as the Opposition, and I am sure that we will continue to be so as we go forward.

David Stewart and other members referred to the proposed Scottish climate change bill. I do not recognise some of the things that have been said about the progress that we are making on it. We have been working intensively on the UK bill, and we are working on our own bill. An extensive consultation document will be published next month. I am sure that members will find it interesting. I hope not only that we can all engage in the consultation process as individuals and political parties, but that we can encourage others to do so. We cannot deal with the subject on a partisan basis; we can only—

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Excuse me, minister.

There are far too many conversations going on. Take your conversations outside the chamber.

Sarah Boyack (Edinburgh Central) (Lab): I very much agree with Stewart Stevenson that we should not be partisan on the matter. Will he accept that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has already acknowledged that the Climate Change Bill has the scope to increase the UK target from 60 per cent to 80 per cent, and that he is already considering the science on that matter? He understands that the science is pushing us in that direction. Will the minister therefore accept that that is not a matter of partisan dispute?

Stewart Stevenson: Sarah Boyack makes an absolutely proper point. This is not about competing in the UK, with the different targets that the different countries of the UK may have to set. The targets should reflect the different opportunities and challenges of each country. In Scotland, we can be the renewable energy capital of Europe and make a particularly significant contribution through that.

Alison McInnes seemed to suggest that ministers—that would be myself—would not be accountable to Parliament for the progress that is made. Each year, we intend to show what is happening on climate change and we intend that the minister will be accountable to the relevant committee and to Parliament. I suggest gently to Alison McInnes that her talking about our increased roads budget is fair enough, but I ask could she talk to Mike Rumbles about that. Earlier today, he was actively encouraging me to increase expenditure on roads.

Patrick Harvie said that the bill has a huge scope—I agree. He wants the UK Government to go further. We have just heard an indication that it might be prepared to do so, so we will work with the UK Government as it considers its targets. Over the period to 2050, the year at which both the UK and Scotland seek to achieve their targets, we will learn more about the science. We will learn more about what is possible, and we will understand more about the opportunities that exist.

In the context of the LCM, we have to ensure that we determine Scotland's response to the challenge of climate change. The Government, in setting an 80 per cent target, on which we will be consulting next year, is showing the leadership that is expected. We have been congratulated by Al Gore, and we will deliver on what we have to do for the world and for Scotland. I hope that a 104-year-old Stewart Stevenson can be around in 2050 to see us deliver on that.

16:29

S3M-1023 Climate Change Bill [Opening Speech]

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 20 December 2007

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]
... ... ...
Climate Change Bill

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Trish Godman): The next item of business is a debate on motion S3M-1023, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, on the United Kingdom Climate Change Bill.

16:03

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson):





We all understand the need to take action on climate change and to co-operate with other countries to do so. The United Kingdom Climate Change Bill sets a statutory target of at least a 60 per cent reduction in targeted greenhouse gases by 2050. The target relates to carbon dioxide, but the bill provides scope to alter the target level or to include other greenhouse gases in future. It will be the secretary of state's duty to meet that target, but he will look to the other Administrations in these islands to assist.

The bill ensures consultation with the Scottish ministers on setting and amending carbon budgets and on amending targets. The bill will benefit Scotland. It enables us to obtain expert advice from the new committee on climate change on our contribution to the UK target and on our own proposed target of 80 per cent. It provides enabling powers under which all the Administrations may establish trading schemes related to greenhouse gas emissions. That provides a means of establishing joint schemes—but does not require us to have such schemes—and allows us to set up what we decide is suitable for Scotland. We have no immediate plans to use those powers. The bill also provides for a UK-wide assessment of the risks posed by climate change, to which we will need to adapt.

Through the bill, we shall work with our partners at Westminster towards shared objectives and demonstrate international leadership. It is important to note, though, that the bill does not dictate the measures that we should take in Scotland. We can legislate in the Scottish Parliament for our own target and determine Scottish measures to support both targets.

I move,

That the Parliament endorses the principle of introducing for the United Kingdom as a whole statutory targets and a related framework for action to mitigate climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions as set out in the Climate Change Bill, introduced in the House of Lords on 14 November 2007, and agrees that the provisions in the Bill which fall within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament should be considered by the UK Parliament.

16:05

S3M-992 Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill [Closing Speech]

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 20 December 2007

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]
... ... ...
Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan): The next item of business is a debate on S3M-992, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, that the Parliament agrees that the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill be passed.

15:17
... ... ...
15:57

Stewart Stevenson:





It is quite clear that a large number of members agree that tolls must go, and that is what the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill will deliver.

I was brought up in Fife and spent the first 20-plus years of my life there, so it brings me considerable pleasure to see the abolition of the tolls. I crossed the Forth road bridge on the first day that it was open; perhaps I will have the pleasure of crossing it on the first day on which it is free to do so.

A number of issues have been raised, as many as possible of which I will try to deal with in the time available. As regards the modelling of traffic, I stress that we are talking about a model. Reality might converge with the model and show it to be 100 per cent accurate but, equally, it might diverge from it. Models are merely estimates; we will of course engage in reality.

Alex Johnstone: I intervene at this point in the minister's speech because those of us who use the Forth bridge regularly are aware that the opening of the A8000 has made a significant contribution to reducing congestion and to improving flow rates on the bridge. Will the minister ensure that any analysis that is done of the removal of tolls from the Forth bridge takes into account the fact that some of the change might be due not to the removal of the tolls, but to the opening of the A8000?

Stewart Stevenson: The member makes a reasonable point. There is certainly no longer the same backing up of traffic, which now goes on to the M9 extension. Nonetheless, we do not anticipate that the volume of traffic using the crossing at the peak hour will be materially different, so we cannot use that as an excuse to fail to engage in dealing with the consequences that may derive from the abolition of the tolls.

Patrick Harvie and Des McNulty quite properly focused on the CO2 impacts of abolishing the tolls. Des McNulty said that there could be an increase in emissions of 9,000 tonnes of CO2 per year; other members have used a figure of 8,000 tonnes. It is worth saying that it has been suggested that the climate change conference in Bali cost 47,000 tonnes of CO2. It is what we do with our expenditure on reducing CO2 emissions that is important, as well as the mitigation measures that we put in place.

Des McNulty referred to the Erskine bridge. FETA has arrangements for handling separate closure for high-sided vehicles when required, and I am sure that FETA's professionals will continue to manage the bridge as effectively after the abolition of tolls as they have before it. Alex Johnstone referred, quite properly, to what is perhaps an early thought in motorists' minds that the tolls may have been abolished. I can assure him that FETA has a strategy that will go into operation this very night and continue as long as necessary to deal with any misapprehension that the bill having been passed will immediately lead to the lifting of the tolls.

Alison McInnes talked about Ferrytoll. It is absolutely vital and we fully support it. Members will have seen a reference in yesterday's announcement to our continued support for Ferrytoll. Our investment in public transport over the next three years dwarfs the cost of abolishing the tolls. The Tay bridge debt will be repaid at the end of January—I can give an assurance that that is provided for in the current budget. I hope that John Park will forgive me if I do not go on at length about the Rosyth bypass, as that is ultra vires. However, I have had preliminary discussions with Fife Council on the subject. I say to Jim Tolson that our plans over the piece should deliver an extra 1,000 places on trains from Fife.

The bridge boards have put in place new traffic management arrangements, new signage and temporary works where necessary that will allow the transition to the free crossing. I understand that they are working on the assumption that all the necessary steps will be in place to allow tolls to end around the first weekend in February. That is a reasonable assumption, although it depends on matters such as royal assent, the timetable for which I cannot influence. As I said to Helen Eadie in the stage 1 debate on 15 November, I will sign the commencement order on the first day on which I am able to do so and give the smallest gap to implementation that is consistent with the advice that I get from the boards about what we can do.

There is a clear, if not total, consensus on the bill, both among members and among those outside the Parliament who travel on our roads and bridges. I trust that Parliament will support the motion in favour of the bill at decision time tonight.

16:03

S3M-992 Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 20 December 2007

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]
... ... ...
Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan): The next item of business is a debate on S3M-992, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, that the Parliament agrees that the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill be passed.

15:17

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson):



Tomorrow is the third anniversary of the tolls ending on the Skye bridge. When the previous Administration made that announcement, it set in motion a process that has brought us—perhaps inevitably—to today's debate. By ending the Skye bridge tolls, and the Erskine bridge tolls 15 months later, it highlighted what many of us have believed and argued for many years: that bridge tolls are an unfair and iniquitous way of making a small number of people pay extra for using our roads.

Our commitment to ending that unfairness, particularly for the people of Fife, Tayside and the Lothians, forms the foundation of the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill. I am grateful to many members of this Parliament for their support for that principle.

When the bill completed stage 2 consideration on 4 December—in what might well have been record time—Patrick Harvie commented that he had expected his first stage 2 as convener of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee to be much "more demanding". The fact that the bill has proceeded so smoothly and rapidly to this point is perhaps the best indication of the broad support that it has in this Parliament and elsewhere.

However, that does not mean that we have cut corners. I am grateful to all the members of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee, as well as the members of the Finance Committee, for their detailed scrutiny of and comments on the bill. We have taken note of the concerns that they have expressed and the issues that have been raised by other members. I also thank the many officials whose work has brought us to this point.

We have worked closely with the two bridge boards over the past six months to ensure that proper traffic management arrangements will be in place so that the transition to toll-free journeys will be made safely and efficiently.

We have also been concerned to ensure that the staff who are affected by the changes have been treated with dignity and respect. I understand that it has been a time of great uncertainty for many of the people employed at the bridges and I know that the boards have worked hard to keep all staff and the trade unions informed of progress over recent months.

I pay tribute to the management at the bridges and, more importantly, the bridge staff for the work that they have done to help prepare for the future operation of the bridges.

When we debated this bill at stage 1, on 15 November, I said that I would be happy to meet bridge staff to explain the thinking behind the bill and reassure them about their positions. My officials contacted the bridge authorities to offer such a meeting if staff would find it useful. Representatives of Tay bridge employees said that they did not wish to pursue a meeting and I still await a formal reply from Forth bridge staff representatives.

John Park (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab): I suggest that the minister contact the transport and general workers section of the trade union Unite. I am sure that that union's representatives would be happy to meet him, as they wrote to him in the summer.

Stewart Stevenson: I take that on board and I will see what I can do.

I reassure members about the Government's commitment to continue to fund the bridges. Both are of an age at which they require constant maintenance and attention, and significant works are to come in the next few years. We have worked closely with the bridge boards to assess their funding requirements over the spending review period and beyond and we are establishing regular monitoring and consultation arrangements to ensure that those funds will be available when they are needed.

I have said that I have understandable satisfaction in bringing the bill to Parliament. Today we fulfil a commitment that was made prior to the election. The first bill from the new Scottish Government ends an injustice to the people of Scotland. It is a short and clear bill. I am delighted to move the motion.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees that the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill be passed.

15:21

15 November 2007

S3M-780 Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1 [Closing Speech]

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 15 November 2007

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]
... ... ...
Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

The Presiding Officer (Alex Fergusson): The next item of business is a debate on motion S3M-780, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, that the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill.

14:56
... ... ...
16:49

Stewart Stevenson: That was a model example, from my dear friend Charlie Gordon, of how to sook up to the Presiding Officer. I hope that all members take note of his example and, whoever may be in the chair, copy it.

When I opened the debate, I said that the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill was based on equity. The dictionary definition of equity is

"the spirit of justice which enables us to interpret laws rightly".

The bill will provide justice for the people of Fife, in particular, and for all other users of the Forth and Tay road bridges by giving them free access to Scotland's road network, the same as everyone else on every other road in Scotland. I am delighted that all but one of the members who spoke in the debate clearly support that principle. In doing so, they reflect the views of a great many travellers, bridge users and businesses in the east of Scotland.

I understand that concerns exist about the impacts that the removal of tolls might have; I commented on some of them in my opening remarks and I will make further comments on them in closing. However, I repeat that we are debating the principle of what Charlie Gordon described as a dirty little bill, but what I describe as a simple bill with simple ends, which are to remove the bridge tolls as soon as practicable; to remove an artificial deadline for the repayment of the Tay bridge loans; and to remove redundant Erskine bridge legislation from the statute books.

Patrick Harvie referred to the results of the model that was used in the toll impact study as "findings of fact". We should be slightly cautious about that, because the model is not intrinsically a matter of fact; it is an assessment that is based on a wide range of assumptions, any one of which if changed could lead to different outcomes. The model is the best available assessment, but it probably is not fact, so we must be careful in interpreting it.

Patrick Harvie's attempt to remove equity from Scotland's political life will have puzzled many members. If equity is removed from the political debate on transport or on a wide range of other policy matters, frankly, we are left with little but the mechanistic assessment of what we should do. I do not support that.

Patrick Harvie: To reinforce my point, I was certainly not arguing that equity should not exist in public policy making, but that, at present, the Government's strategic transport objectives do not include it and that if we included equity as a transport objective, we would look for the greatest inequity and we would not find car drivers.

Stewart Stevenson: Continuing with other members, Iain Smith must read the budget document more carefully. The £10.7 million in 2010-11 to which he referred is of course capital provision, not revenue provision—that provision amounts to £13 million each year for tolls and appears elsewhere in the budget. He will find an extremely generous provision for the boards, which in the immediate year ahead is mainly for dehumidification and replacement of joints on the Forth bridge and for bearings on the Tay bridge.

Iain Smith: Will the minister take an intervention?

Stewart Stevenson: I am sorry, but I am running out of time.

One surprising point that Liberal members raised—Alison McInnes and Iain Smith mentioned it—was on their desire to remove local input to the management of the bridges by abolishing the boards for the Tay and Forth road bridges.

Iain Smith seemed to suggest that putting the Gogar station, rather than an Edinburgh airport station, on the railway line from Fife would somehow have a negative effect. The reality is that we can deliver the Gogar station sooner, more quickly and more cheaply and, because it will not be below ground, the stopping time at the station will be less than it would have been under the proposals for the Edinburgh airport rail link. We are increasing capacity as well. That is a positive approach.

Alex Johnstone took a different view on the bridge boards and asked whether their independence will be maintained. We are doing nothing that will affect the boards' independence. I have given that assurance to the boards' members. They make a valuable contribution and I want them to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Alison McInnes commented that, somehow, the bill will threaten successful public transport schemes. She gave no examples, so I am not entirely sure what she was referring to, although later she talked about Ferrytoll park and ride. We support the Ferrytoll park and ride, which will be expanded, as a vital part of multimodality in transport infrastructure north of the bridge. Indeed, when we came to office, we discovered a substantial number of proposals for park-and-ride schemes around central Scotland on which no progress appeared to have been made. One of the challenges for me—I will rise to it and seek to engage with it—is to make more park and rides work. We will do so, of course, through local interests. Peak-time congestion on the bridge will be unchanged, so there will be no difference for buses or for anything else.

Joe FitzPatrick made some interesting comments. As he highlighted, it is proper to say that much of the groundwork on which the bill is founded was started by the previous Administration. We welcome that. That groundwork has accelerated the pace at which we were able to introduce the bill.

Helen Eadie was gracious in her remarks. Once again, I congratulate her on her persistence on the issue. She said that she will always welcome the SNP keeping a manifesto commitment. I very much look forward to her voting for the referendum bill and supporting a local income tax—both of which are key commitments on which we seek to move forward.

To Jim Tolson, I say that the climate change bill is moving forward at a tremendous pace. We are also working with the UK Government on its bill.

Marilyn Livingstone hinted at increased rail costs. It is worth saying to her that we inherited the current pattern of rail costs, but we are looking at how things might be in the future. On ferry and hovercraft support, we have yet to receive a proposal. We will assess any such proposal when we get it.

John Park again—quite properly—returned to the issue of the bridge staff. Of course I see a role for organised labour. Early in my period in office, I spoke to the Highland and Islands conference of the Scottish Trades Union Congress and I will continue to engage with representatives of organised labour. The approach—

The Presiding Officer: Order. There is too much background noise.

Stewart Stevenson: In relation to the bridge staff, the approach that we have made has been via the bridge boards. I hope that we will get a response shortly and I stand ready to speak to the staff.

I want to repeat something in case, in my enthusiasm earlier, I miscued it. The amount of money that we announced for bus and rail is two threes followed by eight zeros—£3,300,000,000—so I hope that I have made that point absolutely clear.

Alison McInnes: Will the minister give way?

Stewart Stevenson: I am sorry, but I am coming to the end of my speech.

The benefits of the bill are clear and others share that clarity. David Chalmers, of the Federation of Small Businesses in Fife, has said that it is nice to see that we are reaching a point at which we can say that the tolls are definitely coming off. Businesses across Scotland will benefit from having no tolls. Alan Russell, of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, stated:

"The tolls are a restraint on trade."—[Official Report, Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee, 25 September 2007; c 129.]

I offer my thanks, in addition to those that others have given, to members for contributing to the debate on the first bill that the SNP Government has introduced to the Parliament. In particular, I am grateful to the members of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee. I hope that I have answered many of their questions and I look forward to continuing the dialogue.

Finally, I publicly thank the members and officials of both FETA and the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board. I have met representatives of the boards and my officials continue to work with them. Charlie suggested that my post had perhaps been made hereditary—

The Presiding Officer (Alex Fergusson): Charlie who, minister? We are not on first-name terms in the chamber.

Stewart Stevenson: I beg your pardon, Presiding Officer.

The member on the benches opposite referred to my post as possibly being hereditary. I wonder what my late great-uncle, Alexander Stewart Stevenson, would think of our deliberations today. As the person who chaired the Road Bridge Promotion Committee in the 1930s, I suspect that he would join many people in eastern Scotland in quiet satisfaction.

Following today's debate, I am hopeful that the bill can proceed quickly and safely. I thank members for their contributions.

17:00

S3M-780 Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1 [Opening Speech]

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 15 November 2007

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]
... ... ...
Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

The Presiding Officer (Alex Fergusson): The next item of business is a debate on motion S3M-780, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, that the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill.

14:56

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): When I opened the debate on bridge tolls on 31 May, I said that I did so with some satisfaction. I hope that I will be allowed some satisfaction in opening the stage 1 debate on the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill, which was the first bill to be introduced by this Government.

We have been committed to ending bridge tolls for a very long time. During the previous parliamentary session, my colleagues Shona Robison and Tricia Marwick both led debates that sought to end bridge tolls, and Bruce Crawford has just reminded me that he proposed a member's bill on the subject. Many members have supported such calls in the past and I am happy once again to single out Helen Eadie in that regard. Her draft bill to abolish bridge tolls remains poised for introduction, if we look likely to backtrack on our manifesto commitment, although I assure members that we will not backtrack. In May, members voted overwhelmingly to support the abolition of tolls. The bill will remove, with transparency and certainty, the right to demand tolls and, crucially, it will do so as soon as is practicable.

The bill is short and simple and aims to do just three things: remove the ability to charge and collect tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges; remove a legislative deadline for the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board to repay all its debts by 2016; and repeal obsolete legislation relating to the Erskine bridge. If Parliament agrees to the bill, we will end an injustice to the people of Fife, Tayside and the Lothians, and to all who have had to pay tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges when tolls have been removed elsewhere. That is the principle on which the bill is based, and it is the principle on which we will be voting today.

The Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee has published its stage 1 report on the bill, and I am pleased that the majority of the committee's members have endorsed the bill. I regret that Patrick Harvie has dissented from that view. He abstained on the motion that was debated in May, and I understand that he has continuing concerns about the potential environmental impacts of removing the tolls, such as congestion. Of course, I recognise and respect his long-held position. I share the view that we cannot encourage an unchecked rise in traffic on our roads, but it is not the aim of the Government to punish car users and it is certainly not its aim to punish Fife car users alone.

Margaret Smith (Edinburgh West) (LD): Given that the suggestions for increases in road traffic vary from 10 to 21 per cent and that Transport Scotland's preferred option for a further Forth crossing is a unimodal rather than a multimodal bridge, will the minister reassure members and my constituents that the Government takes increased road traffic seriously and that it will do everything that it can to provide the necessary funding and support to put public transport options in place to deal with the traffic increases that will affect my constituents in west Edinburgh?

Stewart Stevenson: I will return to the subject of west Edinburgh and I am sure that the member will be comfortable with what I say.

I return to responding to Patrick Harvie. We believe that the carrot is more powerful than the stick and that we should persuade people by offering a wide range of public transport options. That is why the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth announced £3.3 million—I mean £3,300 million; I just cut the figure a thousandfold, but I reinstated it almost instantly—for rail and bus yesterday. That is also why park-and-ride facilities remain an important part of our strategy. More people can be persuaded on to trains and buses than can be bullied out of cars.

Let us remind ourselves that tolls on the two bridges were introduced so that bridge users contributed to the cost of construction. In a report on a public meeting in Bo'ness, The Scotsman said:

"The Government would stop the charging of tolls after the capital expenditure on the bridge had been cleared."

That argument is not new; it was made in February 1935. The chair at that public meeting of the Road Bridge Promotion Committee was Alexander Stewart Stevenson, my great-uncle.

Today's tolls were not introduced to restrain traffic and were not introduced for all eternity. Enough is enough.

Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green): Perhaps I begin to understand the minister's convictions on the issue: they are a matter not of transport policy, but of family loyalty.

Does the minister accept that, at the time to which he referred and for many decades after that, the level of traffic and the weight of heavy goods vehicles that went over the Forth road bridge were not and were never expected to be what they are now? We face a genuinely new situation, which is why tolls—a demand-management mechanism—can serve a new purpose. Is that not the case?

Stewart Stevenson: It is interesting that the committee that my great-uncle chaired predicted that 6,000 vehicles per day would cross the bridge, as against the 66,000 per day that cross today. Pro rata, 6,000 was a bigger share of the overall traffic in 1935 than 66,000 is of the traffic today.

The Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee asked for information on several issues. I have written to the convener to address the points in detail, but I will touch on one or two issues that have been raised—particularly those that relate to the motion that the Parliament passed on the abolition of tolls in May.

The committee was concerned that we had not consulted on the bill, but very thorough discussion and consultation have taken place over a long period on the principle of abolishing bridge tolls. That consultation and the research study that followed it were unusually thorough. They involved MSPs and substantial numbers of individuals, companies and private and public sector organisations.

The committee acknowledged that the Government is committed to funding the removal of the tollbooths on the Tay road bridge and a new road layout at the Forth road bridge in place of the toll plaza there. The details are matters for the bridge boards as roads authorities, but my officials will help to ensure that safe traffic management arrangements are provided at both bridges when tolls are removed.

The committee has pressed me on the effects on bridge staff. I assure members that I take seriously the impact of our proposals on bridge staff. I have paid tribute to their expertise and understand that this has been a particularly difficult and uncertain time for some of them. I have had no wish to complicate the important and detailed work that has been going on to develop and agree staffing policies that respond to the new situation. Decisions on such issues are a matter for the employers—the Forth Estuary Transport Authority and the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board—but I understand that the Government has a role to play in explaining our thinking behind the bill and reassuring staff about their positions. With that in mind, my officials have contacted local representatives of bridge staff to offer a meeting at an early date if they would find such a meeting useful. In addition, I understand that discussions between employers and employees are reaching a conclusion, which is the right time for me to hear from those who have made such a substantial contribution to the safety and operation of the bridges as to how we may preserve the investment that they have made.

The amendment to the motion that we debated in May sought details on finance and costs. We want to remove the power to charge and collect tolls, and the Government has given an assurance to each of the bridge boards that we will replace the toll income with direct grants. We are discussing appropriate agreements with them. The current toll income of some £13 million will be replaced. We, rather than bridge users, will provide that money. A clear announcement in yesterday's spending review backed that up.

Iain Smith (North East Fife) (LD): A number of different figures appear in the financial memorandum to the bill and the letter that the minister has just sent to the committee. The net toll income for 2009-10 has been given as £13.167 million once the costs of collecting the tolls have been deducted, but there is a budget of only £10.7 million for 2010-11 for the bridge authorities. It does not strike me that the net toll income will be replaced if £3 million less will be provided. Will the minister clarify the figures, as they are a little confusing?

Stewart Stevenson: There is an overall provision of £87 million, which of course includes money for paying off the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board's debts and some of the effects of removing the tolls. The member should be assured that we have made the provision that we are required to make.

I turn to west Edinburgh. We have made major announcements on train services, including on a new station at Gogar, and we are working with all stakeholders to examine issues relating to the west Edinburgh planning framework area. Further detailed analysis of transport aspects will be reported next year.

Finally, I return to the principle that we are debating today. The bill is about equity and fairness. It will remove a barrier to travel, employment, education, leisure and trade. In doing so, it will help us to achieve our strategic objective of building a wealthier and fairer Scotland. The people who must cross the bridges for health or educational reasons or to visit their friends or families should not pay additional taxes for that privilege. They should be treated equitably. The committee's stage 1 report stated:

"The majority of the Committee is of the view that this is a persuasive argument and it therefore agrees that for this reason alone the continuation of tolls on the Forth Road Bridge and Tay Road Bridge is no longer justified."

I commend that conclusion to the Parliament.

I am happy to move,

That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill.

15:08

1 November 2007

S3M-568 Crown Estate (Taxation on Harbour Developments)

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 1 November 2007

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]

... ... ...
Crown Estate (Taxation on Harbour Developments)

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan): The final item of business is a members' business debate on motion S3M-568, in the name of Tavish Scott, on Crown Estate taxation on harbour developments. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes the vital importance to island and coastal communities of their ports and harbours which serve lifeline transport links and, by supporting such industries as fishing, aquaculture, offshore oil, tourism and renewable energy, provide major employment opportunities; further notes that ports and harbours in the Highlands and Islands are largely owned by local authorities, trusts or other public bodies that operate for the benefit of the communities they serve and reinvest any profits in these communities; views with concern the charges such ports and harbour owners have to pay to the Crown Estate for the rental of areas of seabed; further views with concern the royalty charges imposed by the Crown Estate when material dredged from the seabed to assist navigation is used productively by harbour owners for land reclamation rather than being wastefully dumped at sea, and believes that serious consideration should be given as to how the Parliament's powers to legislate over the property rights of the Crown in Scotland, as outlined in the December 2006 report of the Crown Estate Review Working Group, could be used to lift this unjustifiable burden of Crown Estate taxation from ports and harbour operators.

17:03
... ... ...

17:27

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): This evening's debate has provided a welcome and well-timed opportunity to discuss an issue that I know Tavish Scott took a keen interest in when he was the Minister for Transport. He mentioned Telford, who built harbours; I remind him that it took a Stevenson to build the lighthouses.

I am highly appreciative of the speeches that have been made by the other participants in the debate—I listened to those of Liam McArthur and Alasdair Allan, as island representatives, with particular interest because the island communities are most affected by imperfections in ports and harbours. I share the interest in harbours, which play an important role in my constituency, just as they do for island communities.

The debate is well timed because, as members know, the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee is examining the role of the Crown Estate in Scotland and, in particular, the recent report of the Crown Estate review working group. As part of that work, it heard from the Crown Estate on 24 October. On behalf of the Government, I welcome the committee's interest, which allows the views of all parties, including the Crown Estate, to be aired and placed in the public domain and—importantly—enables Parliament to fully debate the issues. The Government will consider carefully the outcome of the committee's deliberations and what members have said in tonight's debate. We await that outcome with interest, especially given the wide range of evidence and views that have already been presented to the committee.

I am aware of the view that is held widely in parts of the Highlands and Islands and in other parts of rural Scotland that, as a landlord, the Crown Estate raises significant amounts of rental income from the seabed in particular, but offers very little benefit to the people of Scotland and the communities from which that income is derived. Many of those communities have few other assets that can deliver the regular income stream that the seabed provides.

There is a broad grouping of local authorities that believe that the Crown Estate charges rents that are too high and that it fails to invest enough in marine infrastructure, such as harbours. I am also aware that some—although by no means all—members of the port sector believe that the Crown Estate takes from Scotland, but does not give back, with the money simply going to the Treasury. I certainly sympathise, to a degree, with those views.

The Scottish Government is already engaging positively with the Crown Estate on a range of marine developments. I hope that that addresses the wish that Liam McArthur expressed in his speech.

Tavish Scott: I take the point that the minister makes about lighthouses—in the coming weeks I will look more closely at those in my constituency.

The minister referred to the Government's work with the Crown Estate. Is he able tonight to say how he views that fact that although, as a landlord, the Crown Estate takes charges for its ownership of the seabed, it now wishes to invest in port facilities at one port, but possibly not at others?

Stewart Stevenson: It is important to encourage the Crown Estate to recycle the money into investment in our ports. The Official Report of the meeting of the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee of 24 October suggests—I base my comments on that source only—that there may be substantial investment in Lerwick, to take forward that port's interests. If the money were always to be returned to each port when it was raised, it would not make a substantial contribution to major projects. We should consider the approach that I have outlined: over the piece and over the calendar ports should be dealt with equitably. The bottom line is that we want more investment in our ports and harbours, and we want the Crown Estate to pay a significant role in that.

Jamie McGrigor: I take the points that the minister makes. The Crown Estate commissioners to whom I spoke made clear that they are open to applications for funding for projects, but that such applications have not been made. However, they are pursuing a number of projects, which is most encouraging for the future.

Stewart Stevenson: That is a useful observation. I suspect that at least three or four members in the chamber will encourage people to come forward with projects. I hope that the Crown Estate will respond positively to those, because harbours and ports are vital parts of many fragile local economies. When it comes to lifeline services, harbours are as important as ships and crews are.

The Crown Estate has expressed willingness to work collaboratively with us for the benefit of the Scottish marine estate, albeit that it operates within guidelines that the Treasury has set for it. Those guidelines include the stipulation that it must make a financial return on its estate.

The Crown Estate has made some progress as a partner in the development of infrastructure for renewable energy. At the end of the day, the basic legal position is clear: management of the Crown Estate is reserved to Westminster. However, the Scottish Parliament may legislate on devolved matters such as planning and the environment—planning is my responsibility, whereas the environment is the responsibility of my colleague Mr Russell—that affect the Crown Estate's activities in Scotland. The deliberations of the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee on the subject will be very relevant to our considerations.

I am grateful for the opportunity to highlight in the chamber the important role of ports and harbours. We place great importance on the port sector's economic contribution locally and nationally. Ports contribute to the health of our economy, not just by providing employment opportunities but indirectly, through related services. They make possible connections with Scotland's dispersed and remote communities, as well as with the international world, creating new business opportunities and links; I refer to the proposals for Scapa Flow. Efficient transport of goods and passengers, supporting Scotland's fishermen, the seafood industries, the energy sector and tourism, and regenerating and supporting local areas and communities are all part of the essential and economically significant role that our ports play.

The Scottish Government will do all that it can to support a constructive relationship with the Crown Estate as we move forward, but I say to Mr Scott that, if necessary, we will rock the boat. My colleague the Minister for Environment will have primary responsibility for developing our relationship with the Crown Estate, but I will work with him in relation to ports and harbours.

I thank Tavish Scott for securing this useful debate, which is an important contribution to where we will go from here.

Meeting closed at 17:35.

27 September 2007

Statement: Edinburgh Airport Rail Links

The Presiding Officer (Alex Fergusson): The next item of business is a statement by Stewart Stevenson on rail links to Edinburgh airport. The minister will take questions at the end of the statement; therefore, there should be no interventions.

15:00

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): Our vision for rail services between Edinburgh and Glasgow in 10 years is for services that are faster, more frequent, more reliable and more attractive than those we have today, but we can also deliver other real improvements much more quickly.

We will deliver a rail network that will link easily to the airports at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick, and which will also provide access to both city centres from points between and fast end-to-end journeys between the cities. The journey time between our two great cities will be reduced to about 35 minutes, which will give us the options of running six trains an hour and opening up direct connections between Edinburgh Park and Glasgow. It is our aim to deliver a scheme that will connect the rail network to Edinburgh airport for less than a third of the cost of the risky Edinburgh airport rail link proposal. We will deliver a new station at Gogar earlier than Audit Scotland believed EARL could be delivered.

Today's statement builds on the high-level output statement that we made in July and tells how we intend to enhance the rail network in order to deliver a number of our manifesto commitments for rail. It also, of course, addresses our work on the governance of the EARL project. Over the summer, we considered the future of EARL. I will remind members what the EARL project proposed: It proposed tunnelling under a live operational runway, diverting a river and tunnelling underneath it and constructing a sub-surface railway. Projects of such complexity and risk profile demand clear and co-ordinated governance, but Audit Scotland told us that the project does not have that.

We know that Network Rail will not take on the tunnel project, we know that the BAA Limited will not take on the tunnel project, and we know that the gradient of the slope out of the tunnel is such that it cannot be climbed quickly by any train in Scotland's fleet. Some have paid Transport Scotland the compliment of suggesting that it should take responsibility that Network Rail will not take by finding a contractor and managing the project. However, that would be hugely distracting from Transport Scotland's core mission, and it would transfer the very substantial and uncapped risks to the public purse. There is simply no sensible way for the Edinburgh airport rail link to proceed in its original form.

However, we still need good public transport access to the airport in order to encourage fewer people to drive there. We must provide such access more imaginatively and less riskily. We will provide a rail connection to the airport at a fraction of the cost of EARL and without the high risk and disbenefits that came with EARL. We will improve, not worsen the reliability and journey times of rail travel across Scotland, as was likely to be the case with the diversion of existing services through a steep tunnel under the airport. Our vision will provide improved connectivity not only at the airport, but throughout the rail network.

We propose a simple, straightforward and integrated solution that will build on the existing rail routes that surround the airport. We plan to add an airport station at Gogar on the Fife railway line, which will provide an interchange with Edinburgh's trams and rail access to the airport. The tram is already planned to stop at Edinburgh Park, which will provide rail travellers from Stirling, Dunblane and the new Airdrie to Bathgate route with an easy interchange to the airport. The new station at Gogar will allow passengers from Fife and further north to access the airport easily and quickly, with no need to travel into the city centre, as they do now. It will also allow faster access to the fast-growing west Edinburgh business area. With up to 30,000 jobs being created in that area over the coming decades, such provision is vital.

Our proposed connection with the trams demonstrates the Government's ability to look forward and leverage the provision of £500 million in financial support that we have agreed for the City of Edinburgh Council's tram project.

We intend also to build a rail link between the Fife railways and the Edinburgh to Glasgow routes—the Dalmeny chord—that will allow Edinburgh and Glasgow trains to stop at the new airport station. The station will be a transport hub that will provide as much connectivity as the previous proposal for an airport station, but with the inclusion of a link to the tram too, and without the time penalty of a tunnel. Our proposal will be on a similar timescale to EARL, but without the risks. Rail passengers from most of the country will be able to access the airport via one easy interchange using up to six trams per hour.

Our proposals are not just about airport links, important though those are. The new airport station and the Dalmeny chord will cost about one third of the estimated cost of EARL. We plan to invest the savings from EARL—and more—in improving rail services for the many thousands of other rail passengers who travel into Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Transport Scotland has worked with Network Rail and First ScotRail to identify the options that could be progressed to improve rail links between Edinburgh and Glasgow. I have considered the options that are set out in the study and have decided that the best approach for passengers and taxpayers is to make a step change in the existing routes by providing an electrified railway between Edinburgh and Glasgow and many places beyond. That will deliver faster and more reliable services that will cost less to operate and produce lower carbon emissions.

We know that emissions from transport have been moving in the wrong direction, so it is key that our transport decisions address that. Our vision is of an electrified network of rail routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow stretching up as far as Dunblane, Alloa and Cumbernauld. That will provide a rail network that is carbon-proofed for the future and which will provide a sustainable, attractive and reliable alternative to the car.

With investment over 10 years, we anticipate providing sufficient capacity to support frequency of service between Edinburgh and Glasgow of up to six trains per hour. We aim to provide an attractive mix of express services and intermediate calls that link with Edinburgh airport via a short tram ride. The express services will reduce journey times to around 35 minutes between the two cities. The additional capacity will ease the commute for people who access the city centres from intermediate stations and from Stirling and Dunblane.

The extra capacity will also allow trains from Glasgow to stop at Edinburgh Park, which will support businesses and make an impression on the growing levels of traffic in the west of Edinburgh. We will also create a considerable step change in the number of services from Glasgow Central station to Edinburgh. We will improve the connections from the south and west of Glasgow and from Prestwick and Glasgow airport through to Edinburgh.

This will, of course, be a long-term investment, which will be implemented through a staged programme. We will build on the line-speed improvements that Network Rail plans to deliver in the coming year and on the programme of improvements to station facilities and customer information that the franchise is already delivering. Passengers who live or work to the south of Glasgow will see improvements over the next two to three years, with an extra 300 seats each hour from Glasgow Central to Edinburgh. From December 2010, the opening of the new Airdrie to Bathgate route will provide four more rail services each hour between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Around the same time as we expect the tram to come on stream—with rail interchanges at Haymarket, Edinburgh Park and the new airport station at Gogar—we expect to have electrified services on the Cumbernauld route, the completion of the Airdrie to Bathgate link, more frequent and faster services via Glasgow Central station and an improved interchange station at Bellgrove. All that should be delivered in time for hosting the Commonwealth Games—if our bid is successful, as I hope it will be—which will make it easier for people from all over Scotland to access the games.

We will deliver the service improvements through the rail franchise, and we look to Network Rail to reflect the infrastructure investment in its forthcoming strategic business plan.

I am convinced that we need to start investing now in electrification and capacity to meet our needs for the next 10 to 15 years, and I want to keep under review whether further improvements beyond that will be justified. Transport Scotland will continue its multimodal assessment of transport investment needs throughout Scotland. Longer-term options, such as an even faster rail route, will be fed back into the overall strategic transport projects review alongside other road, bus and rail options, including improved rail connections across Glasgow and further improvements to services from Inverness and Aberdeen and between.

Today I have set out an ambitious, credible and deliverable alternative to EARL. We believe that our programme for investment in rail will provide a major boost to the wealth of Scotland and its long term sustainability. The investment will use tried and tested technology and rolling stock, and will still provide easily accessible rail connections to Edinburgh airport. It will also complement rather than compete with the tram.

In summary, we shall take forward a comprehensive improvement to central Scotland's rail services. We will provide a station at Gogar, which will provide an effective interchange from rail to Edinburgh airport, and we will provide a significant improvement in the connections between Edinburgh and Glasgow from today's five or six services each hour, with a fastest journey time of 50 minutes, up to 13 services each hour with a fastest journey time of around 35 minutes.

Those are strong proposals for the future of Scotland and I urge Parliament to give them full support.

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Trish Godman): The minister will now take questions on the issues that have been raised in his statement. I intend to allow 10 minutes for questions of clarification only. After that, I will move to the next item of business. It would be helpful if members who wish to ask a question for clarification were to press their request-to-speak buttons now.

Sarah Boyack (Edinburgh Central) (Lab): Will the minister clarify whether there will be any requirement for new land to implement the options that he suggests; where the land is; whether it is in the ownership of Scottish ministers; and whether there will be a requirement for any demolition of buildings along the routes?

Secondly, will he clarify what the capacity implications will be for Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket stations? Will extra investment be required and will that be the same investment as was supported in the SNP's manifesto?

Stewart Stevenson: It is likely that new land will be needed at Gogar, although the exact site has not yet been determined—it might be north or south of the road, as we have two options to consider. There is potential for demolition associated with the Dalmeny chord.

As the member knows, Waverley currently has 24 paths an hour, which will shortly rise to 28 paths an hour, based on the work that is being undertaken there. The programme that I have outlined is consistent with that capacity, but as Sarah Boyack knows, we want to consider more ways of increasing capacity at Waverley, given its strategic position in the centre of our capital city.

Christine Grahame (South of Scotland) (SNP): As someone who was on the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link Bill Committee, I commend the minister on his sensible and prudent announcement. There was a myth promulgated by the Liberal Democrats—that the cancellation of the EARL project would impact negatively on the proposed Borders railway. I ask the minister to clarify that it would do exactly the opposite and that if we were to proceed with EARL, it would impact negatively on the funding for that very important line.

Stewart Stevenson: I thank the member for her congratulations and accept them with a glad heart. I assure the member that cancelling EARL will have no implications of any kind for the Borders rail link. As she will know, due diligence—which is aimed at transferring the authorised undertaker role from the partnership to Transport Scotland—continues and will conclude shortly.

Margaret Smith (Edinburgh West) (LD): As the constituency member for Edinburgh West, I welcome the minister's surprising commitment to the central importance of the tram—even prior to the final business case being made.

The minister claims that BAA will not take on the tunnel project. Will he say whether he has met BAA and whether it supports the original EARL scheme and is content about the tunnelling option, and whether he has received a letter from BAA that says so? What impact will his alternative EARL project have on modal shift?

Stewart Stevenson: Margaret Smith should know that we accepted the will of Parliament and what all parties, apart from the SNP, voted for on 27 June. The trams are therefore properly integrated into the plans that I have put forward today.

I confirm that the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth met BAA and that it will not take responsibility for the tunnel.

Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland) (Con): The minister made it clear in broad-brush terms that considerable gains could be achieved on both cost and timescale by pursuing the project that he has outlined today as an alternative to the EARL project. Can he better quantify the likely cash savings and timescale reductions?

Stewart Stevenson: Our preliminary estimates suggest that rather than the £600 million or so budget for the existing EARL project, we are looking at a budget of about £200 million. Our intention is to reinvest the money that will be liberated by that saving in supporting transport right across the centre of Scotland. That, of course, will augment the work on improving journey times to Inverness, to Aberdeen and to Fife, so we are looking not only at the central belt. Rather than focus the expenditure only on EARL, our approach will help us to spread the benefits across Scotland for the benefit of far more people.

Charlie Gordon (Glasgow Cathcart) (Lab): I thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement—there was a shortage of copies among Labour members, but my colleagues were able to follow the statement in Tuesday's edition of The Scotsman.

It is two years to the day since I won the Cathcart by-election for Labour. I trust that the minister will come to appreciate the fearful symmetry in that before the afternoon is out.

I will ask him three brief questions. In June, Parliament instructed the Scottish Government to sort out the governance issues within EARL. Has it done so? If not, why not? If it has, why ignore the will of Parliament, if EARL has now been strengthened? Will the minister tell us the estimated capital cost of each individual item in his statement? In March, when Parliament enacted the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link Bill, it conferred on EARL's promoters deemed planning permission and the right of compulsory purchase of land for 10 years. Will he seek to repeal the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link Act 2007?

Stewart Stevenson: I belatedly congratulate Charlie Gordon on becoming the member for Cathcart, although the history of that by-election is not something that I had imagined he would bring to the attention of Parliament.

Parliament asked us to address issues of governance—we have done so and we have established that the very real difficulties that were identified by the Auditor General could not be resolved. We have spoken to the stakeholders, as I said, and it is perfectly clear that the difficulties are not resolvable and that it is not safe to proceed with the EARL proposal as it is. Charlie Gordon referred to the passage of the EARL bill in March. Its passage merely enabled the project—it did not require it. It is perfectly proper that a new Administration should look at it again. We have.

The EARL project is not safe. Our proposals will deliver more for more people in Scotland and will do so more cost effectively and without risk to the public purse.

Shirley-Anne Somerville (Lothians) (SNP): A major factor in the development of any public transport project must be the encouragement of the maximum number of people out of their cars. Can the minister detail how his proposals will increase the number of people who use Scotland's trains? As his proposals are directed at improving not only the links to Edinburgh airport but the wider rail network, can he tell us how many commuters and leisure travellers from across Scotland will benefit from today's announcement?

Stewart Stevenson: Our proposals will benefit approximately two thirds of people in Scotland, which is a large number. I share Shirley-Anne Somerville's concern about getting people out of cars. The $200 barrel of oil will be with us some time in the next 10 or 15 years or so—it is coming. As the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, I am interested in the benefits to carbon emissions reduction of electrifying so much of our rail network, which I announced earlier. People will shift out of cars and on to trains because of the frequency and speed of trains, so we are dramatically increasing their frequency and speed between our two major cities and beyond. In addition, the rolling stock will be more up to date, which will make it a quieter and better neighbour.

As well as supporting the surface transport needs of Edinburgh airport, we are creating a package of services that will undoubtedly be more attractive to more people. As I said in my statement, they will address, in particular, issues that affect west Edinburgh, where the rapidly growing numbers of offices and office workers will require the provision of high-quality and effective surface transport in the public sector.

Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green): I welcome the many references to climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions.

Following the previous question, can the minister clarify the meaning of that part of his statement where he said that

"we still need good public transport access to the airport in order to encourage fewer people to drive there."?

The minister will be well aware that the most significant carbon emissions do not result from surface trips to the airport, but from the trips that happen after we get to the airport. Are we looking at a form of transport that will increase the numbers who access the airport, or are we looking at an alternative? If it is the latter, by how much will road traffic trips to the airport be reduced and when?

Stewart Stevenson: Edinburgh airport has one of the highest proportions of people who go by car to an airport to travel by air. Our proposals are focused on making the public transport options far more attractive; they are not, in any direct sense, about increasing the numbers who go to Edinburgh airport. However, I say to Patrick Harvie that air travel is an important part of our overall economy, so we must address carbon emissions from air travel. We, with the United Kingdom Government, seek to have air travel included in European targets on emissions—we support the UK Government on that.

We also support moves that would ensure that airlines use fuel more efficiently. I have heard encouraging ideas on that; for example, Virgin Atlantic did a pilot in which aircraft were towed out to the take-off point, which achieved a reduction of 5 tonnes of fuel per flight. Many things can be done to reduce carbon emissions and the Government will continue to work with partners to ensure that we address the carbon dioxide agenda.

The Deputy Presiding Officer: I call Iain Smith and I apologise to the seven members whom I have been unable to call.

Iain Smith (North East Fife) (LD): One of the things that the minister could do to reduce carbon emissions would be to have trains stop at the place where people want to go. What is it that this Government has got in for the people of Fife that it will deny us a direct link to Edinburgh airport? Furthermore, I do not think that the minister answered Bill Butler's question, although it is important for him to do so. The minister was instructed by Parliament to resolve the governance issues relating to EARL and he has said today that he could not resolve them. What were the problems that could not be resolved? Why is the Government not competent to resolve them?

Stewart Stevenson: Mr Smith may be slightly unwise in his approach to the statement. The governance problems existed when his party was in office. We have addressed the issues and come forward with a credible, affordable and lower-risk solution that addresses requirements. [Interruption.]

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Order.

Stewart Stevenson: I say to Iain Smith that claims were made that the EARL scheme would provide people across Scotland with access to Edinburgh airport by means of 62 stations. I have good news for him: the number has just risen.

26 September 2007

S3M-459 Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan): The final item of business today is a members' business debate on motion S3M-459, in the name of Mike Rumbles, on the Aberdeen western peripheral route.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes with concern the pledge given in writing by the First Minister on 15 June 2007 to abide by the findings of the public inquiry into the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) and ensure that the project is not financed by PPP/PFI funding; further notes with concern reports that the Scottish Government will make no statement on its intended method of financing the AWPR until after the public inquiry is completed; expresses its concern at the year's delay for the estimated completion of the project that was announced in June 2007 by the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change; recognises the importance of the AWPR to the economy of the north east, and believes that clarification should be given as a matter of urgency on how the project will be financed.

17:15

... ... ...

17:56

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): I thank members for their generous help in identifying the issues that I should address. I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight on the issues raised by the motion. However, I start by reiterating what I said to Parliament on 27 June:

"The Aberdeen western peripheral route is vital to the north-east and we are committed to its delivery."—[Official Report, 27 June 2007; c 1131.]

I am delighted that support remains broad based in Parliament and elsewhere, with the exception of the principled and consistent objections from Patrick Harvie. I understand where he is coming from. Richard Baker significantly understated the benefit of the road. It has a cost benefit ratio of in excess of 5:1. The benefit is well in excess of £1 billion, which is why the Government and others recognise the critical importance of the road to the north-east.

Lewis Macdonald: On 30 June 2007, Alex Salmond told the Aberdeen Evening Express:

"I can tell you that the bypass will definitely be built, subject to the public inquiry."

In light of what the minister has said about the SNP's commitment to the road, what does that qualifying phrase

"subject to the public inquiry"

really mean?

Stewart Stevenson: I will come back to planning issues a wee bit later.

I agreed with almost everything that Lewis Macdonald said. It made absolute sense. I only disagree with some of his conclusions.

On the subject of the timetable, it is bizarre to imagine that, when I inquired early in this Administration about where the project stood, I should have masochistically decided to postpone a project of such value to my constituents and to the constituents of other members. That is not what happened. I simply announced where the project was when I found it.

Mike Rumbles: That announcement came after Alex Salmond wrote to my constituent and to the Road Sense campaign. The minister took that decision once Alex Salmond had told him that the project could not proceed, so he should not give us that story.

Stewart Stevenson: I took no decision. I announced how the project was when I found it on taking office. I give the assurance that funding issues will not delay the project further. That is the important point.

We are making progress and have published draft compulsory purchase orders to take the project forward. There were 8,000 responses to the previous orders and there may be more to the new ones. That means a PLI, which will inevitably take time—time that should have been provided for in the schedule.

The inquiry will examine objections to the draft orders, hear evidence for and against the proposals and report to ministers. It is important that ministers carefully consider the implications of the inquiry's findings, which will be central to the way forward. Members know that it would not be proper for me to make any comment on the detail of planning decisions that will come before the Government.

I turn now to the funding vehicle for the scheme, which is at the core of Mr Rumbles's discontent. The previous Administration suggested PFI. In opposition and now in government, we have consistently stated that we want to examine a mechanism to deliver better, more efficient infrastructure for taxpayers than PFI can deliver. We have now started work on the Scottish futures trust initiative. At its core, it retains the essence of long-term funding and long-term repayment but at significantly lower interest rate costs. We will consult on the trust when we are ready to do so and publish information at that time. However, I can tell members that its purpose is to reduce the cost of borrowing and increase affordability so that, every year, we will have more money available for Scotland's priorities.

On PFI, it is passing strange that—of all people—it should be a member of the Liberal Democrats who lodges such a motion. I will gently read a few quotations to Mr Rumbles.

"Bonds are a perfectly good way of raising funds for capital investment. It does not have to be done through PFI."—[Official Report, House of Commons, 23 May 2007; Vol 460, c 1372.]

Those are the words of Norman Lamb, a Liberal MP.

Bob Russell, another Liberal Democrat MP, said of PFI contracts:

"They tend to end up costing the public purse more—mortgaging future generations with huge debts".—[Official Report, House of Commons, 25 July 2006; Vol 449, c 830.]

Matthew Taylor, speaking at the Lib Dems' conference when he was shadow chancellor, said:

"Liberal democrats oppose this dogma".

We will have no more of that dogma from Mr Rumbles.

Mike Rumbles: Has Stewart Stevenson heard of devolution?

Stewart Stevenson: I have heard of devolution and that is why we will do things differently. If Mr Rumbles disagrees with his Liberal colleagues, he should be honest about it—as I have been about the timetable that I inherited from a Liberal minister.

Mike Rumbles rose—

Stewart Stevenson: I have no more time.

Mr Rumbles suggests that we need to decide now on funding; actually, we have to decide about funding at the point at which we need it, and we will do that. The local inquiry is the important thing that we have to get through. It will consider the proposed routes and the compulsory purchase orders; it will not be about the funding mechanism.

We need a robust procurement strategy and good management of the project, but it is important that we keep our options open to deliver best value. In the meantime, we are trying to bring forward as much work as we can. On the northern section, we have people on the ground working on the project. We are making the acquisitions that will pave the way to support this vital road for Aberdeen. We are proceeding with the planning process. We are clearly underlining our commitment to getting on with the project practically and undogmatically.

The benefits that the scheme will bring to Aberdeen and the north-east are considerable. It will represent a highly significant and important investment in the area by the Scottish Government. Decisions on procurement of such a large investment will be taken at the appropriate time. We continue to take steps to ensure that the project delivers best value for the Scottish taxpayer.

Meeting closed at 18.04.

27 June 2007

Statement: Transport

Transport

The Presiding Officer (Alex Fergusson): The next item of business is a statement by Stewart Stevenson on transport. As the minister will take questions at the end of his statement, there should be no interventions. Given the fact that a debate on transport follows on from the statement, I make it clear that, as I have intimated to business managers, questions should be for clarification only.

14:36

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): I want to tell members about how the Government is going to manage and take forward our capital investment programme for transport to ensure that it is ambitious, achievable and, above all, value for money.

We must continue to invest in our transport infrastructure. The Government is committed to doing exactly that to support sustainable growth. We are committed to a programme that must be founded on sound justification and robust business cases. With that firmly held belief, we consider it our duty and our responsibility to assess the major transport project portfolio for trunk road and rail that we have inherited. With this statement to Parliament, we bring that process to a close. We are absolutely certain that taxpayers in Scotland expect nothing less from the new Government.

Members are aware that we invited the Auditor General for Scotland to review procedures used for the proposed Edinburgh trams and Edinburgh airport rail link. Audit Scotland's work is complete and the report has been published. We have taken on board the Auditor General's comments in our review of major projects and our decisions on next steps. Based on the report's findings, I am all the more convinced that what we inherited is neither sustainable nor sensible.

The overall programme has not been prioritised. Many projects are likely to start at the same time, creating a high risk of overheating the market and making it difficult for contractors to plan properly. That approach is storing up problems for us. It is, quite simply, old-fashioned boom and bust. We need a better approach. We need to plan—and we will plan—our programme in a more sensible and sustainable way to attract world-class construction firms to bid for what is by any measure an ambitious and world-class programme. That means bringing forward a programme that is properly prioritised and that matches industry's capability to deliver efficiently, sustainably, affordably and on time. The programme that I am outlining to Parliament meets those objectives.

I now set out our priorities for rail and road and what that means for the current programme. Our priorities for rail investment are to improve connectivity, to maximise the contribution of the rail network to our sustainable transport system and to improve services for commuters. Having reviewed the existing programme for rail, we have reached some conclusions. Last week, I attended the start of work to double the track from Bathgate to Newbridge. We will press forward with the delivery of the full Airdrie to Bathgate scheme by December 2010, and I expect costs to remain in the outturn range of £300 million to £375 million. The project will connect communities in North Lanarkshire and West Lothian with employment, education and leisure opportunities in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It will provide a real alternative to the M8, and the early works on the Bathgate branch will improve reliability of the already popular commuter service.

Transport Scotland is continuing a due-diligence review of the Borders railway as it prepares to take on the role of authorised undertaker for the railway—a role that it is assuming at the behest of the previous Administration. However, we have learned that the Waverley railway partnership's proposed funding package will not be sufficient to deliver the project and that opening in December 2011 is not achievable.

We expect Scottish Borders Council and Midlothian Council to work hard with developers to close the funding gap. We reaffirm the Scottish Government's commitment—which we inherited from the previous Administration—to provide £115 million in 2002 prices towards the scheme. Our continuing support depends on the project meeting the three remaining funding conditions that the previous Administration set. First, the assumptions underlying the business case must hold. That condition includes the achievement of patronage levels, the containment of costs, the active management of risks, and housing growth projections that are achievable and based on identified market demand. Secondly, a clear and comprehensive risk management strategy must be developed and delivered. Thirdly, the railway must be integrated with local bus services to ensure that it has the widest possible impact in the Borders and Midlothian.

Glasgow airport rail link will provide an easy, dedicated, reliable service between the airport, Paisley and Glasgow city centre. The way forward on procurement is clear: Transport Scotland will lead the project, Strathclyde partnership for transport will deliver the civil engineering for the new railway and Network Rail will deliver the track and systems.

SPT and Network Rail are working together to combine GARL with necessary signalling improvements on the existing railway to Paisley. Earlier this year, it became apparent that, if those projects were delivered separately, there would be a need to rip out newly installed infrastructure, which would create unnecessary disruption for passengers. Therefore, we have decided that the best way to proceed is to combine the two projects, the consequence of which is that GARL will be delayed by about a year.

We expect the core of the current work on Waverley station—which will increase capacity and ease congestion at the station—to be completed on time at the end of 2007 and within budget. However, Network Rail continues to work with the Balmoral hotel to reach agreement on proposed improvements to the Waverley steps. Network Rail is now planning a new approach, which will still deliver escalators and lifts to Princes Street, combined with further improvements to the station itself.

We are disappointed and concerned that the important project to reconnect Alloa to the national rail network, provide a more efficient route for coal trains to Longannet power station and free up capacity on the Forth bridge has run late and over budget. We will implement a simpler project structure to strengthen governance and take the project through to opening in the spring of 2008 at a cost of £80 million to £85 million.

I will move on to my response to the Auditor General's findings on the Edinburgh airport rail link and the Edinburgh trams scheme, which were published last week. The Auditor General highlighted that EARL is not in as good shape as he would have expected for a project at the current stage of development. He confirmed that EARL is unlikely to be delivered by the target date of the end of 2011, has no clear governance framework and has no procurement strategy in place. He also confirmed that the project board did not meet between April 2006 and February 2007, that it has met only twice since then, that its membership and role are no longer agreed between the main stakeholders, and that there is no date for the next meeting. That is a litany of unfinished work and incomplete governance, and the Government has been utterly vindicated in its decision to invite the Auditor General to review those projects. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order. Best of order, please.

Stewart Stevenson: As a result, I have no confidence in the projected timescales.

The Auditor General found that the tram scheme had more of the features that we would expect in a well-managed project. However, he highlighted TIE's own assessment that phase 1b to Granton is not affordable within current funding. The affordability of phase 1a depends on successful value engineering and negotiation with bidders. We will not know whether that has succeeded until January 2008—fully four months after TIE originally promised. In that time, TIE proposes that we invest a further £60 million on top of the £79 million that has already been spent—£140 million without a single metre of track laid.

We are being asked to take significant risks with Scottish taxpayers' money on two all-or-nothing projects. Quite simply, I cannot recommend that we do so, given that there are other more important priorities for the use of funds on that scale.

Edinburgh airport needs an effective public transport link, but it does not need a tunnel under its main runway. I have therefore asked Transport Scotland to investigate alternatives to EARL and the trams project and to report back to ministers in the autumn.

I want to consider the most cost-effective way to improve public transport in Edinburgh. The city already has a strong bus service, and excellent value can be achieved from investment in bus, which is flexible and reaches across the city. We can do a lot to work with operators and with City of Edinburgh Council to consider further guided bus routes, improved waiting facilities, greener vehicles and enhanced park-and-ride facilities, and I want to do that over the summer.

I want to focus on our priority for the rail network, which is to improve the reliability, attractiveness and journey time of the Edinburgh to Glasgow route, which will improve significantly the connectivity between those two fine and important cities. Transport Scotland will work with Network Rail and First ScotRail on a package of measures, including infrastructure improvements such as a new station at Gogar as an alternative link to the airport, improvements at Dalmeny and firm proposals for the most cost-effective ways to improve reliability, bring down journey times and provide capacity for the expected continuing growth in rail passenger numbers.

I am pleased to announce that Transport Scotland has today published its initial assessment of the electrification of the Glasgow to Edinburgh rail line. The Government is absolutely determined to attach the highest priority to achieving that truly strategic project, which will establish greater connectivity between the major central Scotland cities. That is the type of project that should command scarce resources to improve significantly our transport connections.

For roads, our priorities are: first, maintaining and operating the existing network safely and efficiently; secondly, managing demand to reduce congestion at key locations to minimise the impact on the economy; and finally, investing in new capacity where it has been demonstrated through robust appraisal that it is appropriate to do so.

Having reviewed the existing programme for major strategic trunk roads, we have reached the following conclusions. We are committed to the completion of the motorway network. The extension of the M74 will reduce congestion on the busiest stretch of the M8 through Glasgow and provide links into key regeneration projects of national significance in Glasgow's east end, which will bring much-needed new investment in homes and jobs.

The M74 project has only one preferred bidder, which makes the need to demonstrate value for money more challenging and all the more essential. We expect to award the contract later this year and to complete the project by the end of 2011. However, we will award the contract to the bidder only if the bid is clear value for money—we will not be held to ransom by a single bidder, and we will benchmark the single bid against an independent cost comparator. That will be a tough and robust process to protect the public purse.

The case for the M80 Stepps to Haggs project is also clear: it will complete the missing gap between Stirling and Glasgow. Two major consortia are bidding for the scheme as a public-private partnership contract. We are committed to continuing with the competition. Changes to the tendering process would add delay to this much-needed improvement. Subject to value-for-money tests, I expect contracts to be concluded soon and the road to be opened in 2011.

On the M8, we are committed to completing the key link between Baillieston and Newhouse as well as carrying out associated improvements and upgrades to the notorious bottleneck at Raith. We will continue to take those projects through the necessary statutory processes and, in relation to the M8, we will publish orders later in the summer. Previously published draft orders will be republished to comply with recently implemented European legislation. A decision on how those projects will be funded will be taken within the year.

The Aberdeen western peripheral route is vital to the north-east and we are committed to its delivery. The project has entered its crucial statutory consultation phase and it is important that we proceed with that. As with the M8, draft road orders will be republished over the summer, to comply with recently implemented European legislation, along with compulsory purchase orders. It is clear that the original timetable for the project cannot be met, and we are looking at the project being completed around the end of 2012. We will continue to work with our local authority partners to deliver that.

An update of the full trunk road programme covering the other important planned projects was published on the Transport Scotland website earlier today.

As members know, we are committed to making decisions on the new Forth crossing. The reports that were discussed by Cabinet yesterday recommend the option of a bridge close to the existing crossing. We are pleased to announce to Parliament that a programme of public information exhibitions will be held during the summer on the proposal and on the possibility of a tunnel upstream from the existing bridge. Those exhibitions will present the full facts that have informed the reports. A decision will be taken in the autumn, alongside decisions on finance, legislation and governance.

The reports have been published today. At 2016 outturn prices, the estimated cost of the bridge option is between £2.5 billion and £3.5 billion, and the estimated cost of the tunnel is £3.6 billion to £4.7 billion. Those figures demonstrate that Parliament must be careful and prudent when considering the projects. The eyes of the world will be upon us as we proceed to construction of this major project that will deliver benefits not just for the people of Fife but for the economy of Scotland. I am determined that the world will witness the delivery of a world-class project in a world-class way.

We have set out for Parliament today an ambitious transport investment programme. Because of the time that we have taken to review the projects, I believe that we can assure Parliament that the programme is achievable.

The Presiding Officer: The minister will now take questions. I will close this question-and-answer session at 5 minutes past 3. I remind members that their questions should be ones of clarification only.

Ms Wendy Alexander (Paisley North) (Lab): In justification of the proposed cancellation of EARL and the trams project, the statement notes that there are more important priorities for the use of funds on this scale. What are those more important priorities?

I understand that the Scottish National Party has called a press briefing immediately following the conclusion of today's debate. Will the party honour this place by making the same case behind closed doors at 5.15 that it will make in the chamber all afternoon?

Stewart Stevenson: Having spent 15 minutes describing a wide range of projects, I would have thought that the member would recognise the significant number of priorities that I delineated. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order.

Stewart Stevenson: In particular, I am sure that people throughout the central belt will welcome our support to progress the electrification of the Glasgow to Edinburgh railway line. That is an example of a project that meets the needs of many people in central Scotland and, along with the Aberdeen western peripheral route, to which we are also committed, shows our support for projects throughout Scotland.

Tavish Scott (Shetland) (LD): Will the minister confirm that he is pushing ahead with Airdrie to Bathgate, the Glasgow airport rail link, Waverley station, Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine, the M74, the M80, the M8 and the AWPR but that he plans to ditch EARL and the trams and is backing away from the Borders railway? Will he confirm that at the recent election, every SNP candidate north of the Highland line, including his good self, said that a nationalist Government would switch expenditure away from the central belt and towards the north? Where is that switch?

Stewart Stevenson: I hope that the member heard me restate the commitment to the Borders railway. If he did not, I say it again. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order.

Stewart Stevenson: I draw the member's attention to an interesting point about the amendment that he appears to wish to support at 5 o'clock. The amendment would delete support for the Government's statement and therefore delete support for the Aberdeen western peripheral route, the M80 and all the projects that he wishes to progress.

Tricia Marwick (Central Fife) (SNP): I welcome the minister's commitment to a new Forth crossing. Is he aware of the concern, particularly among businesses in Fife, that there could be a gap between 2013, when it is possible that the existing bridge will close to heavy goods vehicles, and 2016, when it is expected that the new crossing will be complete? Does the minister agree that the gap would have been shorter if the previous Government had acted more quickly? What comfort can he give that he will do all that he can to ensure that this vital link for the whole of Scotland is completed before 2016?

Stewart Stevenson: We are, of course, working with all possible speed. I assure colleagues that, in exploring the continuing possibility of one of the tunnel options, no change has been made to the timescale. It is important that Parliament understands that we remain on the same timescale—2016 is the best and earliest opportunity to deliver what the people of Fife, the Lothians and wider Scotland need.

Sarah Boyack (Edinburgh Central) (Lab): Will the minister clarify whether the new Forth road crossing will be a replacement bridge or additional to the existing bridge? Has he considered the public transport component of the new bridge? What modal split does he envisage? In the light of last week's statement and debate on climate change and carbon offsetting, has he factored in the carbon emissions of the various options that are before him? I would have looked up the answer but, although the minister said in his statement that the information was published on Transport Scotland's website today, it was not available before we came into the chamber.

Stewart Stevenson: When we consider the strategy and we have the details, we will consider all aspects, including environmental aspects such as carbon.

On the issue of replacement, the member must recall that we do not know the lifespan of the existing crossing. All efforts are being made to extend its life. We have to protect the link between Fife and the Lothians. In doing so, we wish to enhance the public transport options. We also want to consider the use of multi-occupancy vehicle options to ensure that people who use their own transport to cross from Fife to Edinburgh and vice versa do so in an optimal way.

Derek Brownlee (South of Scotland) (Con): The previous Government instituted quarterly reviews of projects against time and cost. Will the minister clarify whether, in any of those reviews, the concerns that he has outlined today were picked up? If so, when were they picked up and what was done about them?

On the Borders railway, will he clarify whether the conditions and financial contribution that he has outlined today are in any way different from those of the previous Administration?

Stewart Stevenson: Derek Brownlee should perhaps direct his question on what happened before this Administration came in a few weeks ago to someone sitting rather closer to him. The important point is that we have—as is normal, natural and necessary—reviewed what we have inherited. I spelled out the financial commitments in relation to each and every project, and we propose amendments only in the cases of the Edinburgh trams and EARL. I also indicated our support for some new strategic projects, and I hope that the member was listening when I did so.

Margaret Smith (Edinburgh West) (LD): I welcome the minister's comments about the Forth crossing. Will he give us more information about the consultation? Will he be interested in hearing public opinion, or will it simply involve exhibitions telling people what is going to happen? Will he confirm which type of tunnel he will consider? Will it be a bored tunnel or a submerged tube?

Crucially, given that geological site investigations have not taken place at all sites, what is the basis for the costs that have been outlined today? Can the minister explain how the cost of a bridge has leapt from £330 million in a Faber Maunsell report to the Forth Estuary Transport Authority in 2004 or from the £1.2 billion that he quoted to me in our meeting last week to up to £3.5 billion today?

Stewart Stevenson: Margaret Smith's first question was on what we would do over the summer with the communities. The consultation will be about engagement and discussion, and a vital part of the process will be to hear the views of the people who will be affected by any or all of the proposed developments.

On the tunnel, we have not yet concluded whether it would be a deep tunnel or a semi-submerged tunnel. On costs, to ensure that it is possible to compare projects coherently, I have used outturn prices throughout. The prices that were quoted previously were for the outset of projects. It is important that we understand what projects are likely to cost in 2016 as well as what the budget might be today. I am making a fair comparison today.

Christopher Harvie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (SNP): I have three detailed questions for the minister. Costs have already been covered by Margaret Smith, but can I ask for the minister's attitude to the fact that the number of bus passengers in Scotland—an awful lot of emphasis has been placed on bus carriage as an alternative—fell by 16 per cent between 1993 and 2003? That figure comes from Kenny MacAskill in 2004.

The Presiding Officer: Can we have a question, please?

Christopher Harvie: I want to know the minister's attitude to the bus as an alternative.

Second is the question of a multimodal tunnel. Will that multimodality include the possibility of high-speed rail links through the tunnel? Thirdly, how do we plan for the expected explosion in oil prices when we hit peak oil, with the $200 barrel and the £12 gallon? Those considerations must be factored in.

Stewart Stevenson: I am sure that the bus passenger figures that Chris Harvie used are correct. It is worth making the point that, since 2003, bus patronages have risen somewhat. They are now at approximately half the level that they were in 1960, but they are heading in the right direction.

On the multimodality of the tunnel, no options have been ruled in and no options have been ruled out.

On oil prices, the member may be interested to know that the power requirement for the electrified line between Edinburgh and Glasgow may be 10MW. That is equivalent to five wind turbines. I have made the connection.

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