Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Parliament to vote on plans for flight tax cut

Labour will force a vote in the Scottish Parliament to urge the Government to drop plans to cut air departure tax after new emission targets were set.

Labour are urging the Scottish Government to abandon plans to halve Air Departure Tax (Lesley Martin/Edinburgh Airport/PA)
Labour are urging the Scottish Government to abandon plans to halve Air Departure Tax (Lesley Martin/Edinburgh Airport/PA)

Scottish Government plans to reduce a flight tax will face a vote in Parliament as Labour pushes for the SNP policy to be scrapped.

The Scottish Government has proposed cutting air departure tax (ADT) by half, but, after declaring a climate emergency last week, Nicola Sturgeon appeared to soften her stance on the flagship policy and boosted opposition hopes that it could be abandoned.

Now Labour has announced it will force a vote on the plans to cut ADT, urging the Scottish Government to drop what it describes as “a £150 million tax cut that benefits the richest the most and increases emissions”.

The last thing our public services need are more cuts, the last thing our planet needs is more emissions and the last thing our society needs is more inequality Colin Smyth MSP

Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: “Like the rest of the world, Scotland needs to face up to the climate emergency our planet faces. That’s why the misguided policy of cutting air departure tax needs to go.

“Nicola Sturgeon joined Labour in declaring a climate emergency – but as it stands her flagship policy would further contribute to climate change and only make it worse.

“The last thing our public services need are more cuts, the last thing our planet needs is more emissions and the last thing our society needs is more inequality.

“So it would be ludicrous to press on with a £150 million tax cut that benefits the richest the most and increases emissions.

“Holyrood can take the first step towards facing up to the scale of the climate crisis, by uniting and rejecting this policy.”

At First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Labour and the Scottish Greens argued that the reduced levy must be shelved if the Government is serious about tackling climate change after committing to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland to net zero by 2045, in line with advice from the Committee on Climate Change.

The First Minister’s spokesman said afterwards that all policies will now be looked at regarding enhanced targets proposed for climate change legislation going through Holyrood, including the proposal to replace the current air passenger duty with a 50% lower air departure tax.

Asked directly if the proposed cut in the levy could be dropped, the spokesman said: “That policy, along with a whole raft of relevant policies that impact on emissions and climate change targets, will be evaluated and re-evaluated in terms of where we need to get to.”

If the SNP is serious about upgrading our planet’s predicament to a climate emergency then it must finally abandon this £250 million tax cut for airline companies Liam McArthur MSP

Ahead of this week’s vote, Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesman Liam McArthur MSP said: “The SNP have been in the pocket of the aviation industry for years. When Liberal Democrats asked what the evidence was for abolishing air passenger duty, Keith Brown referred us to a report on the easyJet website commissioned by four airlines.

“If the SNP is serious about upgrading our planet’s predicament to a climate emergency then it must finally abandon this £250 million tax cut for airline companies.

“Passenger numbers are going up and up already. This money should be going towards our schools, hospitals and making the changes needed to our transport system that can help save our planet.

“It is time these priorities got the first-class treatment instead.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Jamie Greene told the BBC that his party still backed the cut to ADT and suggested offering the reduction to long-haul passengers.

“Our proposal for making reductions in passenger tax were actually for long-haul flights where there really are no alternatives and the point there is that would open up markets such as Asia, the Middle East, the Americas – the growing economies that we need to be doing business with,” he said.

“There are land alternatives for travelling within the UK and, to an extent, within Europe, so that is why the Scottish Conservatives’ proposals want to make a cut where it’s targeted at actually benefiting the economy whilst being sympathetic to the notion that we do need to be making lifestyle changes to benefit the environment.”

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph