THE SNP will charge commuters entering Edinburgh and level the workplace parking levy on some of the biggest companies in the capital if the party is re-elected next month.

In a key local election pledge, the party wants to charge commuting drivers entering the city boundary at peak times to cut traffic and encourage more workers to enter Edinburgh onto public transport.

Separate plans for a workplace parking levy would see 200 firms with more than 50 spaces be charged around £500 a year per space, with exemptions for hospital and medical facilities – amounting to a £2 per working day charge per space.

Opponents have criticsed the plans as a “double whammy for workers” – with concern the strategy could be rolled out in some of Scotland’s other big cities such as Glasgow amid pledges to cut traffic and achieve net zero aims.

In 2005, Edinburgh residents voted in a referendum to reject plans for a congestion zone that would have charged motorists £2 a day – with fines up to £60 for those who did not pay. London’s congestion zone imposes a £15 daily charge but does not cover the entire city.

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Council leader Adam McVey is pledging to roll out the policy in the next council term if the SNP is returned to power in Edinburgh.

He told The Herald that “too many cars coming in from the region to Edinburgh” was a “blunt truth that we have to live with and have to address”.

He added: “We’ve proposed a very sensible measure which is a levy on people coming in at peak times, with exemptions for things like visits to hospitals and healthcare because we recognise that Edinburgh contains some good regional facilities.

“Fundamentally, this will not apply to any Edinburgh council tax-paying residents. We need to make sure that residents, when they need to get around our city, can get around our city.”

The funds raised from the congestion zone would be re-invested to improve public transport systems on a regional basis, including park and ride facilities and better public and active transport options.

Mr McVey said: “This would only operate in peak times to try and ensure congestion is the thing we’re trying to tackle and target."

“People who need to drive across the city will be able to do it easier, transport will flow easier and it will make it a much more attractive for people to use those public transport alternatives.”

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The SNP Government has committed to cut car journeys by 20 per cent by 2030 – while politicians in Edinburgh and Glasgow have pledged to create net zero cities within the same timeframe.

But Mr McVey admitted that “we need to make it more affordable and easier” for commuters from Fife and the Lothians to use public transport to travel to Edinburgh.

The Scottish Government has faced criticism for plans to allow councils to introduce a workplace parking levy, which would impose a charge on car parking spaces.

SNP leaders in Edinburgh are pledging to roll out the scheme to 200 companies – and hope to put measures in place to ensure the charge is not passed from employers to workers.

Mr McVey said: “The only companies that would be paying it is the 200 biggest companies in the city – it’s only companies that have 50 parking spaces or more.

“We’re also going to look at, within the conditions of the implementation of the policy, how we stop the companies passing those charges onto employees.

“What we want is the companies themselves to engage in the process with their employees in a supportive way to enable their employees to make the right choices.”

He added: “We’re exempting things like hospitals and medical centres from it so they are not going to be charged.

“Even at that rate, we would still raise about £10m a year.

"That’s a sizeable amount of money to invest in strengthening public transport in the city and strengthening the delivery of our transport plans.”

It is expected the workplace parking levy could put a pricetag of around £450 to £550 a year per parking space subject to the charge – roughly around £2 per working day.

READ MORE: Workplace parking levy plans may be vetted by ministers amid business fears

The workplace parking levy plans have been heavily criticised by industry leaders, with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce warning that “businesses are incredulous that they are facing yet more upfront business costs, just as the economy is beginning to recover from the impact of the Covid-19”.

The Scottish Conservatives have also spoken out against the plans and are calling for a re-think of the congestion charge proposals.

Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP and shadow local government secretary, Miles Briggs, said: “The SNP’s war on motorists seemingly knows no bounds. Not only do they want to hammer workers for simply driving to work, they are upping the ante even further.

“A commuter tax would be a potential double whammy for workers who rely on their cars to come into Edinburgh due to where they live or poor public transport connections.”

He added: “Clearly the views of the Greens are rubbing off on the SNP the longer they are in coalition together.

“Only the Scottish Conservatives can be trusted to stand up for motorists against such plans by the SNP to impose more taxes, which will only hit hard-working people and damage our recovery.”