UK

Scots government scraps air departure tax cut

Aircraft landing at Glasgow Airport Image copyright Getty Images

Controversial plans to cut the amount of tax paid by passengers flying from Scottish airports have been scrapped after a backlash over the environmental impact.

The Scottish government had wanted to reduce air departure tax by 50% before eventually abolishing it completely.

But concerns were raised that the move could increase greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the number of flights.

The government has now confirmed that the tax cut will not happen.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said reducing air departure tax – which will replace air passenger duty in Scotland – was “no longer compatible” with its climate targets.

Mr Mackay added: “All parts of government and society have a contribution to make to meeting this challenge.

“We continue to support our tourism industry, which is going from strength to strength, and we will work with the sector to develop in a sustainable way.

“We welcome their efforts – and those of the aviation industry – to reduce carbon emissions.”

Image copyright Getty Images

The commitment to cutting air departure tax was included in the SNP’s manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood election, with the party arguing it would boost the economy and tourism by bringing more flights to Scotland.

But there was speculation the policy – which was backed by the Conservatives and the aviation industry – would be ditched after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” at last month’s SNP conference.

Her government subsequently announced it aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045 – five years ahead of the rest of the UK – after receiving fresh advice from an expert panel.

The u-turn came the day before Labour, the Scottish Greens and Liberal Democrats had been due to call for the tax cut to be scrapped in a Scottish Parliament debate.

They argued that the plan would amount to a £150m tax break for the aviation industry and wealthy business travellers, and that encouraging more flights would increase carbon emissions.

The Greens described the Scottish government’s announcement as a “huge u-turn”, which the party said was needed to show that Scotland is serious about meeting its climate change targets.

Scottish Labour said the move was long overdue as a “tax cut that benefits the richest the most and increases emissions was never the right policy”.

But the Conservatives said the government had broken promises to the tourism industry and had “succumbed once again to the environmental extremists in its own nationalist movement”.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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