Greens table amendments to SNP Air Passenger Duty plans

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 17 May 2017 in News

Scottish Green amendments would require the Scottish Government to assess social, economic, fiscal and environmental impacts of policy before tax rates and bands are set

Airplane - credit: PA

The Scottish Greens will table amendments requiring the Scottish Government to produce an aviation emissions policy before setting new rates and bands for aviation tax, as the Air Departure Tax bill moves to committee stage.

With control over aviation tax being handed to the Scottish Parliament as part of the latest phase of devolution, the SNP plans to replace Air Passenger Duty (APD) with an Air Departure Tax (ADT) set at half the current rate.

Ministers then plan to abolish the tax – which generates around £150m per year – “when circumstances allow”.


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But while the Air Departure Tax (Scotland) Bill passed a stage one debate in the Scottish Parliament, with 112 MSPs voting to back the general principles of the bill, the SNP has faced criticism from environmental groups and poverty campaigners over the effect of a cut on rising emissions and falling revenue.

The finance committee has previously called on ministers to provide more information on the effect of the cut.

Analysis from the Scottish Greens suggests that the richest 10 per cent of households stand to gain four times as much as the poorest 10 per cent from cutting ADT in half.

The Scottish Green amendments would require the Scottish Government to carry out an assessment of the social, economic, fiscal and environmental impacts of the policy before tax rates and bands are set.

Patrick Harvie said: “SNP Ministers with the support of the Tories want to give the hugely profitable aviation industry a tax break when they already get away without paying fuel duty. My amendments are aimed at turning a socially and environmentally damaging tax cut into a responsible piece of legislation.

“We must know what impact this new tax will have on our economy, public finances, climate emissions and social equality before the rates are set. This bill is an opportunity to drive down aviation emissions. Turbo-charging the sector's growth will do nothing to help the vast majority of Scots who struggle with the costs of everyday transport.”

But while the plans have faced criticism from opposition parties and campaigners, the SNP argues a tax cut could help boost economic growth.

Introducing the bill, Derek Mackay said: “The plans are a key part of the Scottish Government’s economic strategy, in particular in boosting trade, investment, influence and networks, which are especially important given the economic threat posed by Brexit. Scotland’s airports are competing on the world stage to secure new routes and capacity.

“Reducing the tax burden helps to ensure that there is a more level playing field with the many other European airports that are competing to secure the same airlines and similar routes. New routes will enhance business connectivity and tourism.”

Meanwhile the Scottish Conservatives prefer only cutting tax on long-haul flights, in an attempt to encourage more direct long-haul flights from Scotland.

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