(4)  Over the Sea to Skye (1)

The Skye Bridge linking the island to Kyle of Lochalsh opened in 1995, replacing the former ferry. The ferry charge immediately before the opening of the bridge was £5.40 each way. On the bridge there is a summer and a winter toll for a one-way crossing by car: in 1996 the tolls were £5.20 and £4.30 respectively. This is to enable recoupment of the £25 million of private finance by which the bridge was built. A campaign of toll non-payment has been run since the bridge opened, the leading group in the campaign being Skye and Kyle of Lochalsh Against the Tolls (SKAT). Criminal prosecutions of non-payers have recently been occupying a large proportion of the time of Dingwall Sheriff Court. An appeal against a conviction in that court was heard in the High Court of Justiciary in November 1996. The appeal, which was refused, was based upon the illegality of the toll, in that its imposition involved ultra vires acts by the Secretary of State for Scotland and infringements of Community law (Anderson v Hingston 1996 GWD 38-2227; 1997 SLT 844). The matter may now go to the European Court of Human Rights. After toll-free crossings were allowed on Christmas Day 1996, the tolls were increased in January 1997 to £5.40 (summer) and £4.40 (winter). Mr Donnie Munro, the Labour Party’s Parliamentary candidate in the area (but better known as the singer in the folk-rock band Runrig), committed himself to the removal of the tolls should he and a Labour government be elected. Readers interested in boating to Skye should note that a small ferry still runs between Glenelg on the mainland and Kylerhea to the south of the island (one-way fare £5 in summer 1996).