The Scottish Office recently replied to an enquiry by SKAT as to the approximate cost of providing a shadow tolling scheme on the Bridge.
This, in contrast to a steadfast refusal to even discuss the concept in the past. "Now that they are willing to provide this information, indicates that they are now considering shadow tolling. Otherswise, they would have continued to stonewall us" said Myrna Scott-Moncrieff, spokeswoman for SKAT. "We are really encouraged that they now appear to be weakening in their opposition to this device to remove the iniquitous tolls once and for all".
In response to SKAT enquiry, the Scottish Office Minister, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton wrote that the Scottish Office would expect to pay about 3 million pounds each year until the net present value of the contract is reached. At present, the fees being paid by bridge users are almost nine times higher than the next most expensive toll bridge in Scotland. Other all Scottish toll bridges all have a toll free alternative.
At current Scottish Office estimates, it would take 17 years for the Skye bridge to be paid off. That would result in 51 million being drained from the local economies. The amount of time to pay off the debt seems to vary between 15 and 27 years, depending on who you talk to at the time.
SKAT law liasion committee member, Robbie the Pict, announced that a top London based lawyer is to examine the legality of a monopoly of the road system where there is no alternative route. Liz Lachlan, who has already forced the Government to take out a compulsory purchase order for land in the Newbury bypass case and is well versed in European Law, looks set to take the Skye Bridge question to the European Transport Commission. She has waived her legal fees and is working for expenses only.
Copyright © Ray Shields, 1996.
Most recent revision, 07 April 1996.