Scottish Green Party calls for Sturgeon to abandon plans to halve APD
The Scottish Green party say that Nicola Sturgeon should abandon her plans to slash air passenger duty (APD). Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, said it was clear that there is no longer a majority at Holyrood in favour of halving APD, which would add to pollution and do nothing to tackle social inequality. The SNP manifesto said it would reduce air passenger duty by 50% over the next parliament (to 2020 or 2021). However, no other party in Scotland supported the move, with even the Scottish Conservatives, traditionally in favour of tax cuts, saying it could not be justified “at a time of constrained fiscal conditions.” The Scottish Green party have suggested models of taxing aviation, such as the Frequent Flyer Levy, which would ensure the cost is shifted onto the minority of mostly wealthy individuals who fly most often. Cutting the rate of APD would have the effect of increasing CO2 emissions from Scottish aviation, by encouraging more flights. A better way to tax air travel (which pays no VAT, and on which there is no fuel duty) would be to recognise the environmental costs of flying. Communities that are badly affected by the noise from flight paths at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports would suffer more noise. The additional noise – especially at night – is known to have adverse health impacts, which have a cost to society.
Greens call for Sturgeon to axe plans to cut airline tax
By Daniel Sanderson, Scottish Political Correspondent (Herald Scotland)
NICOLA Sturgeon should abandon her plans to slash air passenger duty and instead consider a tax on wealthy frequent fliers, the Scottish Greens have said.
Patrick Harvie, writing in The Herald today, said it was clear that there is no longer a majority at Holyrood in favour of the move, which he said would add to pollution and do nothing to tackle social inequality.
The SNP leader has insisted she intends to deliver her manifesto in full, despite falling short of a majority. In the document, the SNP said it would reduce air passenger duty by 50 per cent over the next parliament.
However, no other party supported the move, with even the Scottish Conservatives, traditionally in favour of tax cuts, saying it could not be justified “at a time of constrained fiscal conditions.”
Mr Harvie said: “Let’s look at this as an opportunity to resolve what is a complex issue. In the past Greens have suggested models such as the Frequent Flyer Levy. This would ensure the cost is shifted onto the minority of mostly wealthy individuals who fly most often.
“The SNP’s proposal would add to climate change emissions and do nothing to tackle social inequality. Instead we could create a new way forward that recognises the environmental impact of aviation and ensures the right people pay the lion’s share.”
Ms Sturgeon has said that there remains a possibility that a referendum could take place in the next parliament, citing six Green MSPs, in addition to the 63 SNP members, meaning there remains a pro-independence majority at Holyrood.
Addressing the issue, Mr Harvie urged caution. He added: “We believe the timing of when Scotland asks itself the question again should be for the Scottish people to decide. Parliament retains a pro-independence majority but our case must be strengthened to address some of the weaknesses evident in 2014 such as those around currency. Yet while that work remains to be done, it may suit the Tories in particular to keep the constitution uppermost in everyone’s mind, while simultaneously demanding that everybody else “move beyond” it.”
Edinburgh campaign, SEAT, shows why cutting Scottish APD risks harming people’s health and the environment
The community campaign, SEAT (Stop Edinburgh Airspace Trial) has set out why it is opposed to the Scottish Government intention to cut APD by 50%. Edinburgh airport is delighted that APD might be reduced, so increasing demand for more flights (= more profit). But those badly affected by aircraft noise are very concerned about the increase in the problems they suffer. Air Passenger Duty is needed, to at least partly make up for the tax breaks the aviation industry benefits from by paying no VAT, and no fuel duty. There is no VAT on purchase or servicing of aircraft. Many airports are owned by off-shore corporations, that pay minimal (or no) UK company taxed. Flying is already artificially cheap, and even cheaper, if the only tax is halved. While the Scottish government supports high speed rail links to London, which would cut carbon emissions if rail is used instead of air, they also aim to increase the number of flights, by cutting APD. That means significantly higher Scottish CO2 emissions. SEAT speaks up for people negatively impacted by aviation. The impacts on health from plane noise are now well known, and they are a cost to society. SEAT says cutting APD is unwise, and means putting profit for big business before people’s health, or the environment.
SNP to launch consultation on plan to cut Scottish air passenger duty by 50%, starting April 2018
The Scottish National Party (SNP) say they will cut Air Passenger Duty (APD) by 50% between April 2018 and 2021, if they win the Holyrood election on 5th May 2016. There is now a public consultation on this proposal. Control of APD is due to be devolved to Holyrood when the Scotland Bill becomes law, so it is no longer administered by the UK government. The Scottish Labour party has said a reduction would most benefit wealthier people, and should not go ahead. The majority of flights are taken by more affluent people, who can afford multiple short breaks as well as long haul holidays. Details of the APD consultation were announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney during a visit to Edinburgh Airport. The 50% cut in APD would start in April 2018, and be done in stages till 2021. The industry would like cutting APD to increase the amount of profitable high spending tourists to Scotland. They hope this would boost jobs and bring economic benefits. The amount of Scottish money taken out of the country on even cheaper flights is not counted, nor the jobs lost as Scots spend their holiday money abroad. Climate campaigners fear the net effect will be higher carbon emissions from Scottish aviation, if the ticket price is cut.
Scottish Government to consult on impact of halving, and then removing, APD
The Scottish government intends to remove Air Passenger Duty (APD) from flights departing from Scottish airports, in the hope of attracting more flights. Scottish ministers hope cutting APD would encourage more direct flights from Scotland and reduce the need for connecting flights via Heathrow and Amsterdam. Air travel is already very under-taxed, paying no VAT and no fuel duty. The Scottish Government says it will halve APD during the Scottish Parliament’s next term, which will run until around 2020. That will mean about £200 million in lost tax to the government, and the Scottish government has to reimburse the UK Treasury. Scottish ministers want APD cut completely “when public finances permit.” There is to be a new policy forum to look into the implications of removing or reducing APD, and a policy consultation this autumn. The forum will include some environmental groups, as well as aviation lobbies. There would be increased CO2 emissions from Scottish aviation if there was a 50% cut in APD, and even more so with no APD. The Scottish government will have to explain “which other sectors of society will pick up the shortfall and at what cost.” More cheap holiday flights for Scottish people is likely to increase the tourism deficit, with more money flowing out than is brought in by in-bound tourists.