SNP ministers will explore pricing people out of using cars to help meet a pledge to cut the amount of vehicles on Scotland’s roads by one fifth.

The Scottish Government has published its strategy to deliver a 20 per cent reduction in car kilometres by 2030 as part of a legal commitment to cut the country’s 1990 levels of carbon by 75 per cent.

The blueprint, announced by Transport Minister Graeme Dey, includes four key behaviour changes being encouraged of the public – to travel less and use online options if possible, to choose more local destinations, to switch to active travel and public transport and combing journeys and car sharing once possible after the pandemic.

But it also points to “further exploration” of “options for demand management to discourage care use, including pricing”, which will be set out in further research to be carried out this year.

Mr Dey insisted nothing could be ruled out - leaving the door open for toll roads, congestion zones and charges being potentially introduced - while the SNP Government is also calling on Westminster to review its freeze on fuel duty.

The Scottish Government has also resurrected plans for councils to be able to charge commuters for parking at a workplace above a certain size in order to encourage more people to travel by public transport or by active travel.

Speaking in Holyrood, Mr Dey said in order to cut emissions from transport “at the scale and pace needed” to meet climate targets, “we must not only switch to cleaner cars” but “we must also reduce their overall use”.

He added: “We can't escape the scale of the challenge and must acknowledge that changing decades of belief and behaviour requires a mix of infrastructure, incentivisation and regulatory actions, some of which we still need to explore, test and apply.

READ MORE: Warning as Scotland's car traffic surges amid pledge for 20 per cent cut

“Alongside these efforts, we will commission research to explore equitable options for demand management to discourage car use, while also encouraging fewer journeys to be taken by car and for more journeys to be taken by public and active transport options.

“This includes pricing and the cost of motoring. At this stage, we cannot and we should not rule anything out.”

Mr Dey stressed that while a 20% reduction is a national target “it does not mean car usage in rural and remote areas is expected to drop at the same rates of towns and cities”.

He added: “We know that across Scotland, access to transport options varies. So we will work with and support local partners to identify solutions, most appropriate to Scotland’s urban, rural and island communities.”

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson said: “Like many Government documents, it’s full of warm words but little in the way of meaningful action.”

He asked for more detail on where the 20% reduction would come from, saying cars were a “necessity” in some rural areas.

Mr Simpson added: “We’ve had vague promises for years for a national smart card for public transport.

“No sign of that yet, and yet delegates to COP26 were able to have one.”

Mr Dey said the document was a “starting point” and expectations would differ between rural and urban communities.

Work on the national smartcard would be “progressed throughout this year”, he said.

Scottish Labour criticised the updated plans for a workplace parking levy, labelled a “commuter tax” by opponents, to be placed within the strategy.

The opposition from Anas Sarwar’s party comes despite Labour councillors who run Edinburgh City Council in coalition with the SNP, supporting the workplace parking levy as part of a strategy to cut emissions in the city.

Laws for a workplace parking levy will come into action from March this year and would allow councils to charge workers for parking at their workplace.

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson, Neil Bibby, said: “This SNP commuter tax is a shameless attack on workers’ pay packets.

“This will hit countless frontline workers who kept us going through the pandemic. It beggars belief that the SNP are pressing ahead with these misguided plans in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

“It is bare-faced hypocrisy to punish people for relying on cars after letting our public transport system collapse.”

He added: “We need to reduce car use by building an affordable, reliable and accessible public transport – not by forcing people to pay for the privilege of going to work.

“Public transport in Scotland is a joke, and under this Transport Minister it’s getting worse.

“If the minister is serious about tackling the climate crisis and helping people leave the car at home, he can start by reversing his cuts to ScotRail services and stopping his own rip off rail fare hike later this month.”

Mr Dey said that the workplace parking levy aims to “reduce congestion, improve air quality and reduce emissions”.

He added: “We’re going to have to deploy a range of measures to get here.

“In terms of a workplace parking levy, these powers will be at the disposal of local authorities to make a judgement on whether it is the appropriate way to go.”