A NEW workplace parking tax could expose police officers to a greater risk of terrorism, the trade union representing rank and file officers has claimed.

The Scottish Police Federation said that if officers stopped driving to work it could put them in danger as they made their way to and from shifts on foot or public transport.

The SPF called on the Scottish Government to exempt police officers from the workplace parking levy in the same way as NHS staff.

SPF chair Andrea MacDonald made the appeal to SNP Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf at her organisation’s conference on Wednesday.

The new levy, which could cost workers between £400 and £500 a year, is being introduced as a result of a deal between the SNP and Greens on the 2019-20 budget.

Councils could choose to charge employers to cut congestion and fund transport projects.

NHS Staff and hopistals wil be exempt, leading other police sector workers to call for the same treatment.

READ MORE: Teachers 'should be exempt from paying new workplace parking tax'

In Nottingham, the only place in the UK with a WPL, employers with more than 10 workplace parking pays are charged £415 a year to licence each one.

However many firms pass on the costs to staff, which adds VAT to the bill, taking it to £498.

In her conference speech, Ms MacDonald said: "Our general secretary wrote to you [Mr Yousaf] recently about the workplace parking levy and highlighted the risks faced by officers and specifically the terror threat against them.

“To date we have not received a reply other than to advise that you had, inexplicably, passed this matter of police officer safety to the minister for transport, Michael Matheson.

“We wrote to you about a matter of safety for Scotland’s police officers, either you value their safety or you do not.

“Imposing this parking levy does nothing to mitigate the risks police officers face, nor is it realistic to expect a desperately underfunded police service to bear that burden.

“Cabinet Secretary, I appeal to you to bring this to an end and tell Conference that you value our safety and will oppose this levy on police officers and the police service."

READ MORE: Unite calls for Scottish councils to reject workplace parking levy

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “We already knew workers and businesses hated the idea of an unfair car park tax. But this latest warning from the Scottish Police Federation takes these concerns to a completely new level.

“As the organisation states, an officer forced to leave the office and get public transport home will be significantly more at risk than if they could drive home.

“The SNP has made it clear it’s not interested in criticism from opposition parties about this unpopular measure, and it will happily ignore workers and businesses.

“But surely now the warnings have reached this level of severity, there will be a rethink.”

Mr Yousaf told said he was ready to listen to the police calls for an exemption from WPL.

“I hear what you are saying," he told the conference, saying he had encouraged Green MSP John Finnie, the architect of the WPL, to listen to the concerns as well.

However he said he would "withhold judgement” on whether the Government would bring forward an exemption until he saw the details of the Green proposal.

A Scottish Government spokesperson added: “The Workplace Parking Levy will be introduced as a Green Party amendment to the Transport (Scotland) Bill.

“We are listening to the views of stakeholders and will continue engaging with them as we take forward discussions with the Green Party.  It is expected that process for exemptions would be considered at Stage Two of the Bill.

“This would not be a national scheme, the levy would be an option for local authorities and we expect that there would be a requirement for them to consult locally in advance, so any introduction could be some time away. Councils in England already have the power to do this and so far only one has adopted a similar scheme.”