The Scottish Government is being urged to use motorists' road tax cash to help improve cycle paths and pavements.

A group of charities made the plea after Chancellor George Osborne announced he would be putting money from vehicle excise duty (VED) into a new roads fund for England.

Osborne pledged to consult with the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations on "how the money is allocated there".

But charities including WWF Scotland, Ramblers Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland are calling on Holyrood ministers to adopt a different approach when spending their share of the cash.

Osborne said in his Budget earlier this month that ''every single penny raised in vehicle excise duty in England'' would go into a new roads fund to pay for ''sustained investment our roads so badly need''.

In Scotland, however, the charities – which also include Transform Scotland, Sustrans Scotland, Paths for All and Living Streets Scotland – say part of the cash should go on infrastructure to increase walking and cycling.

While they say a repair fund should be established for the local roads network and footways, they also want some of the money to be spent on ensuring buses and trains are better linked up with walking and cycling networks.

In a letter to the Scottish Government, the seven charities called on ministers at Holyrood to adopt "an approach which reflects Scotland's world-leading ambition on climate change".

Colin Howden, director of Transform Scotland, said: "Vehicle excise duty is a tax on pollution but the UK Government's plan in England will see it used to increase traffic and pollution. We have an opportunity to do things differently in Scotland. Investing in a repair fund for our footways and local roads – where most everyday journeys are actually made – will benefit pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike without increasing road capacity."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Following the announcement in the UK Government's summer budget that vehicle excise duty is to be reformed, we have written seeking clarity and greater detail about the plans. To date, limited information has been passed to us on this issue."

He added: "More generally it's important to note that Scottish transport emissions have actually fallen for six years in a row – equivalent to a 13 per cent reduction overall.

"As the charities themselves recognise, there is already a series of major commitments and significant investment in this area. We also have a shared vision of 10 per cent of everyday journeys by bike by 2020.

"We do, however, acknowledge more can be done and, as the transport minister stated at Pedal on Parliament earlier this year, there is a clear commitment to match record levels of investment seen during the course of the last financial year."