Patrick Harvie calls on SNP to ditch aviation industry tax cut 

Nicola Sturgeon claims tax cut will help flying families 

BUDGET BEDFELLOWS THE SNP and the Scottish Greens have set aside their recent financial deal in a dispute over the future of Air Passenger Duty (APD) during First Ministers Questions (FMQ’s) in the Scottish Parliament today (9 February). 

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said there was no credible evidence for the benefits of a proposed tax cut, and called on the Scottish Government to drop its 2018 plans for a 50 per cent APD cut. 

While First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that financial plans would be kept under review, she pledged to push ahead with the cut on aviation taxation - which will soon be fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament. 

Harvie and his Green colleagues have warned that an air travel tax cut would lead to an increase in climate change emissions, and leave a hole in the Scottish Government budget. However, the prospect of defeating the change has sunk after the Tories did a u-turn since the last election to back an APD cut. 

Revealed: No revenue figures available for SNP's planned airlines tax cut

“What I found astonishing about those who spoke at committee in favour of the government’s view, is that none of them seemed capable of producing a shred of credible evidence about what the impact will be - not on flight numbers, or prices, not on job creation - they all produced different figures for that mostly on well out of date research,” Harvie told parliament. 

Environmental campaigners have also raised concerns that a tax cut for big airlines will encourage far greater levels of pollution, increasing climate change.

However, Sturgeon denied that this was a tax cut for big business.

“It’ll be a tax cut for the individuals and families who use air travel, including families who go on holiday and may well welcome a reduction in the cost of going on holiday,” she said.

“In terms of some of the evidence from those who would support this policy, they do make very clear statements in terms of the impact of that in greater routes from Scotland, more flights in and out of Scotland, and more jobs in the industry.”

Transport Scotland figures released last year identified over 24.1m air terminal passengers in Scotland for 2014, an increase of over one million on the previous year.

A majority of respondents to the Scottish Government’s consultation on APD by 50 per cent objected to the proposals. Edinburgh Airport argues that a tax cut would generate a boost in economic activity, which could create further tax income.

Picture courtesy of Shai Barzilay

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