AN SNP MSP has compared his own party’s proposal for a workplace parking levy tax to a 10p hike on income tax for motorists.

Richard Lyle attacked the “unfair tax” at Holyrood’s connectivity committee, as it held its first evidence session on the anti-congestion measure.

The result of an SNP-Green deal to pass the 2019/20 Scottish budget, the workplace parking levy (WPL) would see councils empowered to charge employers for their parking spaces.

READ MORE: MSPs accused of 'duplicity' over workplace parking levy

The plan is opposed by Labour, the LibDems and Tories.

Nicola Sturgeon has urged the opposition parties to get behind the WPL as part of efforts to tackle the “climate emergency” she declared at last month’s SNP conference.

However, some of her own MSPs are also sceptical of the charge.

Nottingham, the only UK city to try a WPL to date, charges firms with 10 or more parking bays £415 each per year, although half of large employers pass on the cost to staff.

Under the Scottish scheme, hospital, and GP surgeries would be automatically exempt, but it would be left to individual councils to decide on any other exemptions.

READ MORE: Teachers and police face Scots parking tax as first details published 

All funds raised would be earmarked for local transport improvements.

Chris Carter, Head of Transport strategy at Nottingham City Council, gave evidence to the committee by videolink on the city’s experience.

Mr Lyle, who represents Uddingston & Bellshill, asked him: “I contend as a motorist I pay road tax, I pay petrol duty, I pay insurance.

“Would you not agree that the workplace parking levy is an unfair tax on myself and other people, as a motorist?”

Mr Carter said it was “not uncommon to pay parking charges”.

Mr Lyle replied: “This is over and above parking charges. To park in a carpark, yes, I accept that. But this is something that’s never been in place in our country and you suggest that I’m going to pay it.”

Mr Carter said the system was fair kind of “nudge” to encourage behaviour change.

He said: “It provides money to encourage behaviour change into more sustainable forms of transport which is beneficial for everybody.”

Mr Lyle then said: “But you could just say to me, Let’s put your income tax up by 10 pence, Mr Lyle. Couldn’t you?”

Mr Carter said: “You could do that, but this is a kind of nudge kind of economics. A small change to encourage behaviour change.”

Mr Carter later said public reaction to the Nottingham scheme had been mixed and warned “strong political leadership” was needed to introduce a WPL.

He said: “Exactly what form that takes will be different in different areas but I think strong political leadership is absolutely essential. As long as there's agreement around a vision then it would work. But I think leadership is the key."

Stephen Ison, professor of transport policy at Loughborough University, said: "These are very difficult, very thorny measures. You have to be very brave, you have to have a vision because it's not easy. You are actually implementing a disincentive, you're introducing a charge, some would call it a tax. I think Nottingham were very brave."

The WPL is being promoted as an amendment to the Transport Bill by Green MSP John Finnie.

Mr Finnie said: “Mr Lyle’s comments suggest he’s not understood the specific proposal the Committee is considering.

"The fact of the matter is that thousands of people die each year as a result of air pollution and we know that the workplace parking levy can tackle congestion, cut pollution and raise funds to improve public transport in our biggest cities. The status quo is not an option.”

LibDem MSP Mike Rumbles said: "The amendment says that the burden of the tax falls on the occupier of premises, but it can also be expanded by ministers at any time to apply to whoever they like.

“These proposals are clearly scribbled on the back of a parking ticket. No wonder even SNP committee members are far from impressed.

“I will be putting down an amendment to remove this power from Scottish ministers.”An SNP spokesperson said: "The workplace parking levy is about empowering councils - allowing them to decide which policies work best for them. The levy has the potential to be a hugely valuable tool in helping local councils address the climate emergency."