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by Nicholas Keyden
06 August 2015
Greens warn over air passenger duty

Greens warn over air passenger duty

Patrick Harvie has warned that the aviation industry will “fight tooth and nail against any fair and sustainable solution” ahead of a consultation on the future of Air Passenger Duty (APD).

The warning follows deputy First Minster John Swinney’s decision to launch a Scottish APD stakeholders forum on the future of APD, with a view to cutting it by half.

Responding, Harvie said: “They already enjoy massive tax breaks, and they know that continual growth in aviation is simply incompatible with responsible climate change policy.”

The Scottish Greens' co-convener urged the Scottish government to ensure “high profit, high polluting” airline companies pay their fair share of tax.

With APD set to be devolved, the Greens warned that scrapping the duty would see the Scottish government increase climate change emissions by 60,000 tonnes.

Speaking during a visit to Edinburgh Airport, Swinney said: “We want to be consultative and collaborative as we have been with the new fiscal levers already devolved to Scotland.

“The forum and this autumn’s policy consultation allow us to take the next step and begin the process of designing and developing a Scottish APD to help deliver our objective of sustainable economic growth."

Meanwhile Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown added: “UK APD has been the most expensive tax of its kind in Europe and continues to act as a barrier to Scotland’s ability to secure new direct international services and maintain existing ones.

“Devolution of APD to the Scottish Parliament will provide the opportunity to put in place new arrangements which better support the Scottish Government’s objective to help generate new direct routes and increase inbound tourism. Our plan to initially cut APD and then abolish it when public finances permit is a fundamental component to improving Scotland’s international connectivity”

Harvie responded: “While it's encouraging that Scottish ministers are no longer proposing to scrap APD without a replacement, it's clear that the aviation industry will fight tooth and nail against any fair and sustainable solution.

“The most positive idea yet proposed is a frequent flyer levy, under which people would pay nothing if they took one return flight a year, but after that the levy would rise with each extra flight.

“This would acknowledge the enormous environmental impact of aviation, while recognizing that most of the growth in flights isn't due to people taking an annual family holiday - it's due to a wealthy jet-set minority, who are coming to treat air travel as casually as hailing a taxi.”

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