Driving over the bridge to Skye

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The controversial Skye Bridge was given a clean bill of health in a report by the National Audit Office published today.

The bridge, opened in 1995, was one of the first schemes to be completed under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The project is estimated to have cost the Department of Transport pounds 15m, more than anticipated, but thanks to the use of PFI, the bridge was built much earlier than if it had been funded conventionally through the public purse. There have been widespread protests at the tolls - pounds 5.40 for a car in high season - but the report says the fares are lower in real terms than those for the ferry from the Scottish mainland to the Isle of Skye which the bridge replaced. The report also finds that since the contractor, Miller-Dywidag, will recoup its investment within 14 to 17 years, the concession will revert to the Government.

5 National Audit Office, The Skye Bridge: pounds 10.75 Christian Wolmar