Environmentalists including Friends of the Earth Scotland have welcomed the announcement by the Scottish Government that they have abandoned their SNP election manifesto pledge to cut Air Tax.
Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland said:
“This change of heart is excellent news. When you are in a Climate Emergency the first thing you should do is stop all the things that will make the situation worse. The government’s own figures show that removing ADT would have resulted in a significant increase in emissions, equivalent to putting 30,000 extra cars on our roads.
“Cancelling the ADT cut demonstrates that declaring a Climate Emergency was a serious commitment, more than just words.
“This decision would help keep climate emissions down, support public finance and send an important signal that Scotland is serious about climate change. Clearly the next logical step is to start mapping out the phase out of the North Sea oil industry.”
The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon addressing the SNP Conference made a climate change emergency declaration.
“So today, as first minister of Scotland, I am declaring that there is a climate emergency….And Scotland will live up to our responsibility to tackle it.”
Last week co convener of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie, MSP, predicted that the Scottish Government would drop its proposals to cut Air Tax.
“It is growing clear that the Scottish Government knows that this ill thought out air tax cut proposal will never fly, and is only waiting for the right time to finally send it to the policy scrapyard.
“The Greens have been clear from the outset that this unfair and environmentally damaging plan would only give tax cuts to wealthy frequent flyers ahead of everyday transport like buses, trains and the investment our pavements and streets need.”
Not surprisingly the dropping of the proposals were met with frustration and disapproval from others.
Dr Richard Dixon, FOE, commented:
“Edinburgh Airport has accused the government of hypocrisy but it would have been hypocrisy to have proceed with cutting ADT while talking of a Climate Emergency.”
What is Air Tax?
Air Departure Tax (ADT) will be Scotland’s replacement for Air Passenger Duty, which is a tax on all eligible passengers leaving UK airports. (Scot Gov)
Control over Air Departure Tax was one of the powers to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament from the UK Parliament.
“The Air Departure Tax (Scotland) Act 2017 received Royal Assent on 25 July 2017.
“On 23 April 2019, the Scottish Government deferred the introduction of ADT beyond April 2020 until issues have been resolved regarding the tax exemption for flights departing Highlands and Islands airports.
“Air Passenger Duty (APD) will continue to apply to flights departing Scottish airports, and HMRC will continue to have responsibility for administering APD in relation to Scottish flights.” Revenue Scotland
In the interim, the UK Government will maintain the application of Air Passenger Duty in Scotland and the current UK APD rates and bands, as well as the existing Highlands and Islands exemption, will continue to apply. (Scot Gov)
Reporter: Fiona Grahame