A decision against implementing a congestion charge was made in 2005. There were a number of feasibility studies and consultations undertaken.
The final charging scheme consisted of two cordons at which a charge would be levied for vehicles travelling inbound, towards the city centre. There would be an outer cordon around the edge of the built-up area of Edinburgh, just inside the outer city bypass, and an inner cordon around the centre of the city, broadly encompassing the World Heritage Site
The outer cordon would operate between 7am and 10am only; the inner between 7am and 7pm, Mondays to Fridays in both cases.
The charge was to be £2 (€2.40), levied no more than once per day on any single vehicle. If a vehicle were to cross both cordons, or to cross either cordon a number of times during the day, the charge would still only be applied once that day. In this sense, the scheme resembles an entry permit scheme.
Public opinion was always a key concern. The around 19,000 consultation responses received in the 1999 consultation showed high levels of support (62%) shown for the strategic option including the concept of congestion charging. In addition to the public consultation, there was also extensive consultation with stakeholders.
The conclusions drawn from the consultation and an initial technical appraisal were that congestion charging was feasible, would reduce traffic levels, could generate substantial revenue for transport investment and would have no or very limited adverse economic impact if the charge was set at an appropriate level. In addition, there was a high degree of acceptance provided that the overall package was right.
In 2002 it was decided that a referendum would be taken before implementing a congestion charge. In 2003 there was a market research study undertaken, where there was a less positive outcome on how people were likely to vote on a referendum. Unfortunately the timing of the referendum was when the public opinion on charging was particularly low. The public inquiry of 2004 did not identify any significant barriers to the implementation of the scheme.