Harvie restates intention to change Air Departure Tax Bill after SNP & Tory MSPs block his attempts

Patrick Harvie MSP, Economy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (17 May) restated his intention to make changes to the Air Departure Tax Bill after SNP and Tory MSPs blocked his attempt to make the tax more sustainable.

Mr Harvie's amendments at today's Finance Committee asked for an Aviation Emissions Policy to be developed before the new tax's rates and bands are set, and for that policy to include a drive to reduce emissions compared to 2005 levels, which both the airlines and the government’s climate change advisors say is achievable.

Research for the Scottish Greens has shown that the richest 10 per cent of households stand to gain four times as much as the poorest 10 per cent from the government's aim of halving air duty, and that such a cut would increase climate change emissions by 60,000 tonnes a year.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"It's disappointing to see SNP and Tory members of the Finance Committee ignoring the results of their own inquiry which found a complete lack of evidence to support ministers' desire to cut this tax. It's equally disappointing that the Finance Secretary resisted the idea of setting an acceptable level of emissions from aviation. It’s not credible to claim that other sectors of our economy will compensate for the damage caused by aviation growth, if we don’t even know the scale of the task. 

"The Finance Secretary says he will launch a public consultation this summer but if people are just asked whether or not they support the tax cut, that's not a proper consultation. Instead we need a serious evidence base about the social, economic and environmental impact of aviation, and that evidence must come before a policy is adopted. 

"So far the Government has refused to commit to an evidence-led approach. What we know already is that cutting this tax will benefit the wealthiest the most, will increase rather than decrease climate change emissions and will deprive the public purse of millions of pounds of revenue. 

"The Scottish Government still have an opportunity to reshape this Bill to address those concerns in time for the final vote in the chamber. Or they can look to the Tories for support, and do the bidding of big business. The choice they make will say a lot about their commitment to a more equal Scotland and to tackling the climate crisis."